Superstar steroid investigator Jeff Novitzky, the investigative heavyweight behind the BALCO probe, appears to be traded from the IRS team to Team FDA. The New York Times covers this story:
Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent whose investigation into performance-enhancing substances has exposed cheating in professional sports, left the Internal Revenue Service recently and joined the Food and Drug Administration to focus on the distribution of illegal drugs, according to an F.D.A. official and two lawyers who were briefed on the change.
Novitzky has joined the F.D.A. Office of Criminal Investigations as a special agent with all the same investigative powers he had during his 15 years with the I.R.S., the lawyers said.
Novitzky will remain based in the Bay Area and continue to work closely with the United States attorney’s office in the Northern District of California, the lawyers said. One of the lawyers said the F.D.A., which has fewer agents than the I.R.S., had been courting Novitzky for some time because of his work as the lead investigator on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative case. So far, eight people have pleaded guilty in connection with the Balco investigation, including the track star Marion Jones.
Despite the trade, Novitzky will remain in the Bay Area. Already in the FDA lineup, Novitzky was swatting at Jose Canseco:
Novitzky and two other federal agents were in Los Angeles on Tuesday to interview José Canseco in connection with their investigation into Miguel Tejada and Clemens, who are suspected of making false statements as part of separate Congressional investigations into the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Canseco was questioned for three hours, his lawyer, Greg S. Emerson, said in a telephone interview. He said Canseco was questioned about “the things we expected.”
Why did Novitzky jump teams from IRS to FDA. Appears that a career advancement might be one issue, as well as joining a team with more talent, and better hitters in the lineup.
“I think it would give him more exposure to just doing that type of work,” Sparlin said by telephone Tuesday. He added: “For Jeff to go as far as he did in Balco was a stretch for the I.R.S., too. I think he was allowed to go a lot further than he would otherwise because of the impact.”
F.D.A. investigators work with grand juries and use subpoenas. False statements to an F.D.A. agent are no different under federal law from false statements to an I.R.S. agent; the track coach Trevor Graham, who is charged with three counts of making false statements to Novitzky, goes on trial May 19.
The F.D.A. office was involved in Operation Raw Deal, which resulted in 124 arrests in September. That case focused on human growth hormone and steroids coming from China to underground labs in the United States.
There are no reports about salaries, arbitration, trade details, or contracts. We expect Novitzky to hit cleanup for the FDA. There were some rumblings that Novitzky was using HGH to increase his power, however these should be quickly dismissed...