Pharmacy nurse who worked with ex-Steelers doctor sentenced on steroid charges

(PGH Post Gazette) A nurse who worked at a pharmacy that provided steroids to a former Steelers doctor was sentenced today to two years of probation for his role in an alleged performance enhancing drug ring.

John F. Gavin, 51, of Valencia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids in relation to his past role with Robinson-based ANEWrx.

His attorney, Stephen S. Stallings, said he “made a horrible mistake here, but it was not a mistake of greed. … It was a mistake of naive compassion.”

Mr. Stallings said that Gavin believed that the steroids and growth hormone distributed by ANEWrx were helping people.

“He literally cared too much, and in a wrong, misguided way,” Mr. Stallings said.

Prosecutors said ANEWrx improperly sold 40,000 units of the drugs.

Prosecutors have said the pharmacy worked with Downtown doctor Richard Rydze, who was one of the Steelers’ doctors for two decades until 2007.

Dr. Rydze has pleaded not guilty to a 185-count indictment being handled out of Cleveland because of the doctor’s extensive contact with local law enforcement, including a role with the Pittsburgh office of the FBI.

William M. Sadowski, who ran ANEWrx, is serving a 30-month prison term.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew B. Kall, from the Cleveland office, said Sadowski has had kidney and heart problems since he was imprisoned and suggested they may have been due to steroid use.

Mr. Kall said that Gavin’s cooperation with investigators led to Sadowski’s cooperation and guilty plea. Mr. Kall asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Maurice B. Cohill to give Gavin a reduced sentence in recognition of that cooperation, but suggested it should include “a short custodial” term.

Judge Cohill said Gavin “has reached a point where this is unlikely to happen again” and imposed only probation.

“The whole United States is really a victim now of the drug problems which we read about every day in the papers,” the judge added.

Mr. Stallings said Gavin will try to keep his nursing license despite the sentence.

About a dozen of Gavin’s supporters attended the sentencing. Numerous people wrote letters to the judge portraying him as warm and helpful.

Mr. Gavin turned to his supporters, gestured to the prosecutor and an FBI agent, and said, “These guys are really nice people. They really are.”