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Behind BALCO: The Hidden Officer Involved Shooting
If the BALCO case is strictly about drug use in sports, then why is Barry Bonds represented by Michael Rains - a lawyer whose entire legal career has been spent protecting police from prosecution? While we're being distracted by the Bonds saga, are we missing a connection between steroids and police?
I tried to ignore the BALCO story. But you have to admire the aerobic stamina of the pundits. To spew pompous indignation over the possibility that a ball player might have lied and ditched his Wheaties for the real 'Breakfast of Champions', while failing to take note of an administration that has elevated the sport of lying and cheating to Olympian heights, must require endless hours with one's head up one's ass. Sensationalize the trivial, while ignoring the crucial: straight out of Psyops 101.
But it's clear that this is about more than testosterone. One month after Bush mentioned steroid abuse in his 2004 State of the Union address, his top cop, John Ashcroft, paused from his busy schedule of abduction and torture to announce the BALCO indictments at a nationally televised news conference in Washington DC. But if the BALCO case is strictly about drug use in sports, then why is Barry Bonds represented by a lawyer whose entire legal career has been spent protecting police from prosecution? Why didn't KGO ask that question when, in Dec. 2004, it reported that Barry Bonds' lawyer, Michael Rains, spoke "at a crowded news conference in Oakland, where he's participating as a defense lawyer in 'The Riders' trial"?  Isn't it surprising that someone who can afford top-of-the-line legal defense is represented by the Mr. Fix-it for law enforcement low-lifes? Lawyers defending police are not accustomed to vigorously building a case, because courts seldom convict law enforcement. Doesn't Bonds realize the court is not going to cut the same slack for an 'uppity' black superstar in a drug case? And what led Rains to move from brutality to baseball? While we're being distracted by the Bonds saga, are we missing a connection between steroids and police?
Who is Michael Rains?
Dubbing itself 'The Ultimate Backup', the firm of Rains, Lucia, and Wilkerson represents 80 California law enforcement agencies, including all those in the East Bay, according to a Dec. 2001 profile in East Bay Business Times . They handle contract negotiations, internal investigations, and criminal charges against police. In the same article, Rains names his most respected competitors: "Bill Rapaport. He's in San Mateo. And the other guy is Craig Brown and he's in San Jose" . Naming them as 'competitors' is grossly misleading. As Rains implies, each has his own turf: while Rains and company take the big business in the East Bay, Rapaport rules San Mateo County, and Brown lords over Santa Clara County. Yet they also collaborate: Rapaport and Brown are currently defending East Palo Alto police charged with assault for beating Calvin Brooks so severely he needed a five-day hospital stay. Brown, who freed the State agent that killed Rudy Cardenas in San Jose (while the father of 5 pleaded for his life with his hands in the air), also defended one of the Palo Alto pair that brutalized 60-year-old African Albert Hopkins for the crime of sitting in his parked car. The other PAPD "thug" (as the Assistant DA called him) was represented by Harry Stern - a junior attorney from Rains' firm. And the Riders trial brought all three together to represent Oakland's Swinest.
Bill Rapaport: Man in the MiddleRains claims he knew Bonds through a mutual acquaintance and was retained specifically for this case. Perhaps the mutual acquaintance is Bill Rapaport: he initially represented Bonds' personal trainer and long-time friend, Greg Anderson (Anderson later switched to the legendary attorney and legal activist Tony Serra, who took the case for free). Two days after IRS, FDA and the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force agents handcuffed and questioned Anderson on Burlingame streets in Sep. 2003, Federal agents kicked down the door of his Burlingame home and claimed they found steroids and syringes. They also claim Anderson admitted that he had given steroids to several professional baseball players. So how did Rapaport migrate from defending brutal beasts with badges to representing someone charged with providing elite athletes (i.e., fully aware adults) with precisely what they ask for? In fact, Rapaport has long been a counselor for the steroid biz. In May 2004 the San Mateo Daily Journal reported that Rapaport has represented both Victor Conte Jr., the founder of the Bay Area Lab Co-Operative (BALCO) that supplied Anderson with performance enhancing drugs, and James Valente, BALCO's vice president - and ended up suing them in 2001.
Burlingame Officer Involved ShootingHad Anderson fit better into Rapaport's typical client profile, he probably would have escaped jail. In fact, about a month after Anderson was getting slammed on the streets of Burlingame, the same Narcotics Task Force discovered more than 700 tablets of steroids and syringes in the truck and house of Burlingame Police Officer Robert J. Cissna. They were acting on a tip from customs officials in New York, who seized more than 2,000 tablets of steroids on its way from Romania to a Burlingame post office box addressed to Cissna. In Sep. 2004 Cissna pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and received a deal of 18 months probation, with the charges dismissed and his records cleared. A Deputy DA confessed to the San Mateo Daily Journal : "We initially charged Cissna with intent to sell based on the quantity. Then we received information from the defense about his usage pattern...and we found [the quantity] was consistent with personal use." And who provided 'the defense' that enlightened prosecutors? The 'Ultimate Backup' to the rescue: Michael Rains .
So while a mob of federal agents swooped down to bust an athlete's trainer in a case that received national attention (and got him jailed for 3 months), just across town a local cop got off with no jail or record after federal agents considered 2000 steroid tabs wasn't worth more than a phone call to local police, and the DA is relieved that the cop's not selling those thousands of tabs of steroids - just shooting them up! And Michael Rains is the legal face of both the athlete and the cop. Quite a coincidence for Burlingame, a small town with relatively low crime rate. Outcome for the cop: he was fired from his job when he was charged, but he has since been reinstated. 
Tip of the IcebergAs one police psychologist accurately reported on CNN in April 2005 , steroid use among star baseball players may be getting the most attention, but a bigger problem is likely the police officer down the street who is using them: "At some point in using the drug, psychotic-type symptoms come in. And they're not predictable. That makes it an even more dangerous issue" . The DEA warns that possible psychological disturbances resulting from steroid abuse include "mood swings (including manic-like symptoms leading to violence), impaired judgment (stemming from feelings of invincibility)...and hostility and aggression". Clearly, these traits in police are what keep Rains and crew busy and prosperous, so we can infer that it is in their interest to protect steroid-abusing police (and hide those police behind the media feeding frenzy that comes when they toss Bonds out to publicity-hungry feds), but do the rest of us want police that are even more violent, irrational, and hostile when fueled by 'roid rage'? While Bush publicly frets over steroids in sports, the White House website links to a DEA report  that warns: "Despite the illegality of steroids without a prescription and the known dangers of steroid abuse the problem continues to grow in the law enforcement community" . From Honolulu Officer Belluomini who pleaded guilty to five illegal sales of human growth hormone in 2002 and 2003, to Tampa Officer Campbell who traded Ecstasy tablets - stolen from an impounded car - for steroids while in uniform and on duty, to New York Officers Foley and Grettler who pleaded guilty to dealing cocaine and steroids, it is clear that the Officers aren't just banging roids, but slinging it too - under the most protective cover possible.
The real story behind BALCO may look more like the case of PowerMedica, a Florida company found selling steroids, as well as syringes and needles, without prescriptions to dozens of police. One policeman's wife was a PowerMedica saleswoman, who hand-delivered the drugs. The officers told investigators they believed PowerMedica was legitimate, and expressed no qualms about shooting themselves up with drugs. While one Florida paper editorialized that "Power-Medica is to South Florida cops what BALCO...was to major league baseball players" , it may be that PowerMedica is to South Florida cops what BALCO was to Bay Area cops. With one difference: Bay Area cops are being rescued by the 'Ultimate Backup' of Michael Rains - and the attention on Barry Bonds.