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WASHINGTON - Miguel Tejada yesterday became the first high-profile player convicted of a crime stemming from baseball's steroids era, pleading guilty in federal court to misleading Congress about the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Under a plea agreement, Mr. Tejada admitted he withheld information about an ex-teammate's use of steroids and human growth hormone when questioned by a House committee's investigators in August, 2005.
The misdemeanor can lead to as much as a year in jail. Federal guidelines call for a lighter sentence, and one of his lawyers, Mark Tuohey, said he thinks Mr. Tejada will receive probation.
Mr. Tejada - the 2002 American League MVP with the Oakland Athletics and a five-time All-Star shortstop now with the Houston Astros - also acknowledged he bought HGH while playing for the A's, but said he threw the drugs away without using them. Prosecutors said they have no evidence to contradict that.
"I just want to apologize," Mr. Tejada said as he fought back tears later at a Houston news conference. "I made a mistake, and now I know how serious of a mistake that I made for not answering a question about another teammate."
Astros general manager Ed Wade expects Tejada to be present when players report for spring training Tuesday in Florida.
Federal Magistrate Judge Alan Kay set Mr. Tejada's sentencing for March 26.
Judge Kay asked more than once whether the Dominican Republic-born Tejada understood this could affect his immigration status. "Yes, your honor," Mr. Tejada replied.
At one point, Mr. Tejada apologized "to the whole United States, because this country gave me the opportunity to be who I am and the last thing that I want to do is let this country down."