Olympic Gold Medalist Marion Jones-Thompson Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements in Two Separate Federal Criminal Investigations

Oct 05, 2007, 01:00 ET from U.S. Department of Justice

    NEW YORK, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Marion Jones-Thompson, 31,
 of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty today to charges of making false
 statements to federal agencies in connection with two investigations
 conducted out of the Southern District of New York and the Northern
 District of California, respectively; Michael J. Garcia, the United States
 Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and Scott N. Schools, the
 United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, announced
     Jones-Thompson pleaded guilty before Kenneth M. Karas, United States
 District Judge for the Southern District of New York, to a two-count
 Superseding Information filed earlier today. According to the Superseding
 Information and other documents filed in Manhattan, White Plains and San
 Francisco federal court, as well as statements made during today's guilty
 plea proceeding: An elite, professional track and field athlete,
 Jones-Thompson's achievements include winning five medals while
 representing the United States, including three gold medals, at the 2000
 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Jones-Thompson lied to New York
 federal agents investigating a sprawling check fraud/money laundering
 scheme involving, among others, Timothy Montgomery, a former Olympic gold
 medalist and 100 meter record holder, and Steve Riddick, a 1976 Olympic
 gold medalist and Jones-Thompson's former track coach. Additionally,
 Jones-Thompson falsely denied to federal officials in California that she
 had taken performance enhancing drugs, and made other false statements
 during their investigation into the activities of Balco Laboratories, Inc.
     The New York Investigation
     The co-conspirators orchestrated a scheme to defraud numerous banks out
 of millions of dollars by laundering stolen, altered and counterfeit checks
 by depositing those checks into various bank accounts they controlled,
 among other methods. The investigation has resulted in the convictions of
 over 20 individuals in this and related cases, including Montgomery,
 Riddick, and Charles Wells, the former sports agent for Jones-Thompson and
 Montgomery. Instances of the fraud include a counterfeit check for $850,000
 deposited in April 2005 into a business account controlled by Nathaniel
 Alexander, a friend and officemate of Riddick's. The co-conspirators then
 sought to distribute the proceeds of the $850,000 counterfeit check, in
 part by issuing a check for $25,000 from Alexander to Jones-Thompson, which
 check Jones-Thompson then deposited into a bank account she maintained.
     Alexander was convicted on May 10, 2007, of bank fraud, bank fraud
 conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy charges following a jury trial
 before Judge Karas. Additionally, in May 2005, Montgomery deposited a
 counterfeit check for $200,000 into a business account he jointly
 controlled with Jones-Thompson. Jones-Thompson and Montgomery, who resided
 together at various times between 2002 and the summer of 2005, executed
 documents to add Jones-Thompson as a signer on Montgomery's business
 account several days before he deposited the check. An agent of the New
 York Office of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and
 Customs Enforcement ("ICE") and other Government officials interviewed
 Jones-Thompson on Aug. 2, 2006, and Sept. 5, 2006, at the United States
 Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. During the
 interviews, Jones-Thompson made the following false statements and
 concealed the following material facts: (a) on Aug. 2, 2006, Jones-Thompson
 falsely stated that she was unaware of a $25,000 check Alexander had made
 out to her, which she had endorsed; (b) on Aug. 2, 2006, and Sept. 5, 2006,
 Jones-Thompson falsely stated that she was unaware Montgomery had received
 any large checks in 2004 or 2005, including the $200,000 counterfeit check;
 and (c)on August 2, 2006, and Sept. 5, 2006, Jones-Thompson fraudulently
 stated that she had no knowledge of Montgomery's involvement in a
 counterfeit check fraud scheme. In her plea today, Jones-Thompson admitted
 to having made the false statements knowingly and willfully.
     The California Investigation
     A federal criminal investigation commenced in the Northern District of
 California in 2002, concerning a scheme to distribute anabolic steroids and
 other illegal performance-enhancing drugs and the related money laundering
 of the proceeds by BALCO, a California corporation located in Burlingame,
 California, which performed blood-testing and other functions.
     While investigating BALCO, the investigation developed information
 regarding the drug distribution activities of Trevor Graham, who coached
 professional and Olympic track and field athletes, including Jones-Thompson
 from approximately 1997 to 2002. The investigation subsequently expanded to
 include, among other things, whether various witnesses had made false
 statements during interviews with federal agents. On Sept. 3, 2003, a
 federal search warrant issued by a United States Magistrate Judge in the
 Northern District of California was executed at the BALCO premises in
 Burlingame, California. Among other things, investigators obtained evidence
 concerning Jones-Thompson and her relationship with BALCO and Graham,
 including her receipt and use of drugs they provided.
     The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID),
 San Jose Office, was the lead investigative agency throughout the course of
 the California investigation. As part of that investigation, on Nov. 4,
 2003, a Special Agent of IRS-CID, along with another Government official,
 interviewed Marion Jones-Thompson. Prior to the interview, Jones-Thompson
 and the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of
 California executed a letter-agreement which provided that any statements
 Jones made during the interview would not be used against her in connection
 with any prosecution, except under limited circumstances. The
 letter-agreement specifically stated that Jones-Thompson was not immunized
 from prosecution for making false statements during the interview.
     During the interview on Nov. 4, 2003, Jones-Thompson made false
 statements and concealed material facts by fraudulently stating that she
 had never seen or ingested a performance-enhancing drug known as "the
 clear," that she had never received the drug from Graham, and that she had
 never used any performance-enhancing drug. In her plea today,
 Jones-Thompson admitted that she had taken such drugs for approximately a
 year, beginning prior to the 2000 Olympic Games. She stated that while she
 did not realize at the time what she was using, she admitted that she
 realized by the end of 2003 that she had been given performance-enhancing
 drugs by a previous coach, and that she acted knowingly and willfully when
 she falsely denied, in 2003, having used such substances. Jones-Thompson
 faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of the two false
 statements counts in the Superseding Information, for a total of 10 years.
     The sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 11, 2008 before Judge Karas.
     Mr. Garcia stated, "Deceiving federal agents in the course of their
 investigations disrupts and impedes the proper administration of justice
 and is a serious matter. Even if the truth is eventually uncovered, the
 lies throw investigators off track, waste time and resources, and create a
 real risk of a miscarriage of justice."
     Mr. Schools stated, "The federal government will vigorously prosecute
 individuals who provide false statements to its agents. Individuals who lie
 to federal agents interfere with the government's ability to investigate
 criminal conduct and undermine the efficiency of government
     Peter J. Smith, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York ICE Office,
 said, "Marion Jones-Thompson lied to agents during an important financial
 investigation. The potential harm from the check fraud conspirators
 reflects greed and the exploitation of our financial systems. Today's plea
 is an example of ICE's commitment to identify and bring to justice those
 who would challenge the security of these systems, and I want to thank all
 of the special agents who worked the investigation that culminated in these
     "Providing false information to the government is a federal crime. Ms.
 Jones-Thompson's guilty plea proves the seriousness of this crime, and
 demonstrates the commitment of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division to
 finding the truth," said Scott O'Briant, Special Agent in Charge for the
 IRS' Oakland, California Field Office. "The message should be clear, when
 you lie or mislead investigators for any reason, as in this case involving
 the use of illegal steroids, those actions will be aggressively pursued."
     Mr. Garcia praised the work of ICE in the investigation of the New York
 case, and Mr. Schools praised the investigative efforts of the IRS-CID in
 the California case.
     The New York investigation and prosecution is being handled by the
 Major Crimes Unit of United States Attorney's Office for the Southern
 District of New York. Assistant United States Attorneys E. Danya Perry and
 Daniel W. Levy are in charge of the case.
     Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey D. Nedrow, Jeffrey R.
 Finigan, and Matthew A. Parrella, Chief of the San Jose Division of the
 United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California,
 are in charge of the California investigation and prosecution.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice