By Neale Gulley
BUFFALO (Reuters) - An assistant to a Canadian sports doctor who treated top athletes and has admitted bringing illegal performance-enhancing drugs into the United States was sentenced on Monday to a year's probation.
Mary Anne Catalano, 33, pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to making a false statement after her arrest in September 2009 carrying drugs as she crossed the Peace Bridge into Buffalo, New York, from Ontario, Canada.
Her arrest led to the investigation and prosecution of her boss, Anthony Galea, who has treated such athletes as golfer Tiger Woods and National Football League players Jamal Lewis and Takeo Spikes.
The Toronto sports doctor has admitted illegally bringing human growth hormones and performance-enhancing drugs into the United States. He faces sentencing on October 19.
At her arrest, Catalano first claimed she and the doctor were attending a medical conference but then began cooperating with authorities and admitted they were planning to treat a patient in Washington, D.C.
Galea is licensed to practice in Canada but not in the United States.
Catalano had faced the possibility of up to a year in jail and a fine, but U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara said she deserved leniency. He noted she had turned over computer files and offered testimony that was crucial to prosecuting Galea.
Galea was accused of smuggling substances SUCH as human growth hormones, which are banned by professional sports, and actovegin, a performance-enhancing drug that is not approved for use in the United States.
Prosecutors have not said that any of Galea's professional sports patients used the illegal drugs and hormones.
The judge sentenced the doctor's assistant to one year of unsupervised probation. As a Canadian citizen, she will not be able to enter the United States during that time.
"I think she's suffered enough, and I hope she can pick up all the pieces," the judge said. "Dealing with well-known athletes, I guess you get caught up in that sometimes."
Catalano's defense attorney Rodney Personius said his client had fallen under the sway of Galea, who he said had "great charisma", and she was seduced by a lifestyle of travel and associating with famous athletes.
"Through this, Mary Anne found that she had bankrupted her own ideals," her attorney said.
Catalano also spoke in court, saying tearfully: "I knew what I was doing was unlawful and I deeply regret using such bad judgment."
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Johnston)