A federal grand jury has been convened to hear evidence in a criminal investigation focused on whether pitching great Roger Clemens lied to congressional investigators last year, ABC News has confirmed.
The probe is examining contradicting statements made by Clemens and other witnesses before a House Committee examining steroids in baseball.
Former Clemens trainer Brian McNamee told Rep. Henry Waxman's House committee last year that he injected the "Rocket" with anabolic steroids and HGH. Clemens testified that it was vitamin B12 injections. Clemens's own testimony also contradicted that of Andrew Pettitte, a former Yankee's teammate who told Waxman's committee that Clemens admitted he had taken HGH in the late 1990s and 2000.
During the February 13, 2008, hearing Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., asked Clemens, "In his deposition, Mr. Pettitte said he had a conversation with you in 1999 or 2000 in which you admitted that you used H.G.H. Is this true?"
"It is not," Clemens told the committee.
According to officials briefed on the matter, testimony in the grand jury case is expected to take place later this month. Reports of the federal investigation into Clemens's testimony were first reported on ESPN.com.
The Clemens Justice Department inquiry, which is being run by the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, could pose an interesting issue for Clemens attorney Lanny Breuer, who represented Clemens last year. Breuer is rumored to be Obama's pick to run the Justice Department's Criminal Division, which oversees criminal investigations.
It's unclear if Breuer still represents Clemens.
Last February, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner gave private testimony, under oath, to congressional lawyers behind closed doors.
Witnesses have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury as early as this week. The jurors are expected to review evidence presented by assistant U.S. attorney Daniel P. Butler and determine whether there is probable cause to return an indictment for perjury. Butler was in the news last April for successfully prosecuting a racketeering and money-laundering case against Deborah Jean Palfrey, dubbed "the D.C. Madam."
Those expected to either testify in front of the grand jury or to be interviewed by Butler and FBI agents include McNamee, and admitted drug supplier Kirk Radomski. Charlie Scheeler or other investigators who helped assemble the Mitchell report, Major League Baseball's inquiry into performance-enhancing drug use that first publicly identified Clemens for allegedly taking steroids, could also be called before the grand jury.
Prosecutors are also likely to confer with Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky, the government's lead investigator in a series of sports-doping cases over the past five years. Novitzky attended the four-hour hearing last February during which Clemens and McNamee offered conflicting testimony about the pitcher's alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
It is not known whether Clemens himself will be invited to appear before the grand jury, though a former Washington federal prosecutor said the government could afford Clemens a chance to explain the contradictions and possibly avoid indictment. Should the grand jury eventually return an indictment, his appearance could also provide the prosecution a start in fleshing out Clemens's possible defense, the former prosecutor said.