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Column: Ex-FBI Official Says He’s “Embarrassed and Ashamed” About Agents Getting Busted For Steroid Use

Anthony Riggio is a former lawyer who went on to work for the FBI for 24 years.  He held a number of posts during that time including assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit office. He retired in 1995 as a senior executive at FBI headquarters.

Tony Riggio

Tony Riggio

By Anthony T. Riggio, FBI Agent (Retired)
For ticklethewire.com

I am a retired FBI agent who has devoted almost 26 years to the service of my country, both in the Army and the FBI. I have great affection for my country and tremendous respect for the job the Bureau does for our nation.

I never aspired to become an FBI agent, but when I became disenchanted with the practice of law, I took a big chance, against my Dad’s advice, and accepted a position as an agent. I’ve never looked back and I enjoyed a long and satisfying career. Being an FBI agent was a job, I believe, I was born to do; nothing else would have scratched that itch.

The FBI is always forefront in the public eye, for good or bad, the former far outweighing the latter. Much of the bad press is based on a bias of which politics and personal agendas play a great role. While I find bad press personally disturbing, I recognize it often provides for personal and institutional growth by the Bureau to better serve the American people.

When, however, an FBI agent or a support employee crosses the line, I, like everyone in law enforcement, shed a tear or two. Our hearts break because someone has violated their oath to uphold the law. “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle against…the devil.” This is part of the prayer to Saint Michael, patron saint of police officers, who expelled Lucifer from heaven.

When I read about three FBI Agents and one support employee being arrested for using Human Growth Hormones (HGH) as part of a regiment to enhance their strength and musculature, I was embarrassed and ashamed. They will be fired from an honorable profession that hundreds of thousands of law enforcement professionals honor every day. Should these four be found guilty, they will be among other fallen demons in our jails across the country. They turned their backs on those of us who honor the profession every day of our lives.

I never knew about anabolic steroids or human growth hormones until I was the number two man in the Detroit FBI Office. I was approached by several exceptional agents about an undercover proposal which would target steroid users and dealers. Admittedly I was somewhat naïve about steroids in the mid eighties, when Agent Greg Stejskal of the Ann Arbor Resident Agency came to me with his proposal. I was amused but respectful of his pitch, and listened to his presentation growing more interested as he laid out the issue.

Use of these substances was becoming increasingly identified with professional body builders and athletes. Furthermore, Stejskal, warned this problem was filtering to all levels of sports involvement and was becoming endemic even at the high school level. He further explained the federal violations and the fact that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were deeply involved in enforcement of the laws prohibiting steroid use and sale. Stejskal convinced me that this was something the FBI should investigate. It was a huge, illegal business and involved international dealers as well as organized crime.

I bought into the operation which was subsequently code named, “Operation Equine” (after hormones derived from horses). Two agents, John Wills and Bill Randall, both body builders, were assigned to work with DEA and FDA counterparts in developing a strategy to gain the confidence of steroid dealers and users. It was in some ways a typical drug operation, yet with a different clientele. The mechanics were the same, work your way up the food chain of users and dealers trying to catch the biggest fish in the water. The success of this case was tremendous and resulted in not only arrests, but in professional sports managers taking an interest and asking the Bureau for help in educating their athletes.

Operation Equine and the dedication of federal agents, particularly, Stejskal, Wills and Randall, along with countless unnamed heroes in law enforcement, exemplified the good work of the men and women of the FBI. I am personally proud to have been among them in this battle.

Hopefully, John Q. Public will not judge the Bureau based on the arrests of a handful of’ knuckleheads who have brought shame to themselves, their families and the law enforcement personnel who remain duty-bound in their service to the law and the American people.


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