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Doctor agrees to plead guilty in steroids case

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Feb. 13, 2006) -- A doctor accused of writing illegal steroid prescriptions to football players has agreed to plead guilty to one federal conspiracy charge as part of a plea agreement, according to court documents.

Alternative medicine physician James Shortt will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. In exchange, prosecutors will drop 42 similar counts against the West Columbia doctor, according to papers filed Feb. 13 in U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

Shortt faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Johnny Gasser said in these types of cases, sentencing usually occurs two or three months after the plea agreement has been reached.

Shortt has been free on bond since he was indicted last September.

The indictment didn't specify who received the drugs Shortt prescribed. But a person familiar with the indictment said they were current and former members of the Carolina Panthers, bodybuilders and at least one police officer. The source spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, and did not name players.

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