Bust L.I. ER boss as drug supplier to top-jock gym
BY TERI THOMPSON and T.J. QUINN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
The director of a Long Island emergency room surrendered to police on May 10, 2007 on charges that he supplied steroids to friends - making him the latest potential casualty in the ongoing Albany steroids investigation.
Dr. Oreste Joseph Bruni, 51, director of the emergency department at New Island Hospital in Bethpage, L.I., allegedly ordered steroids for the owners of Bev's Fitness in Syosset, L.I.
The walls of the gym rat's paradise are covered with photos of the gym's famous clients.
But no one at the gym - which touts itself as a favorite workout spot for professional athletes, including NFL stars Keyshawn Johnson, Jumbo Elliott and Joe Klecko - has been named as a target of the probe.
Bruni, who refused to speak to the Daily News after he was released on his own recognizance, allegedly ordered steroids for gym co-owner Steve Weinberger, the husband of women's bobybuilding legend Bev Francis.
Bruni pleaded not guilty to felony diversion of a prescription drug in Nassau County District Court. His attorney Nancy Bartling called the charges "ridiculous" and said she expected them to be dismissed."
Weinberger and Francis could not be reached for comment.
The ongoing probe, which originated with the Department of Health and the Albany District Attorney's office, has led to 21 indictments and seven guilty pleas related to an alleged Internet steroid scheme in which doctors wrote prescriptions for patients they had never examined.
Customers seeking steroids were able to access the Web sites of "anti-aging" centers, which would then pay the doctors to write prescriptions for the drugs, including human growth hormone and hardcore steroids.
Pharmacies all over the country that allegedly were part of the conspiracy would then fill those prescriptions.
Bruni has not been accused of participating in the scam, but according to records he ordered the steroids for Weinberger and Francis from Applied Pharmacy in Mobile, Ala., one of several pharmacies being probed. DEA agents served a search warrant on Applied last year.
The Nassau district attorney's office is prosecuting Bruni.
But the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement agents who sought charges - Mark Haskins and Rick Boettcher - are the same investigators who led raids on several Florida pharmacies and "anti-aging" clinics in February.
Professional baseball players Gary Matthews Jr., John Rocker, Jose Canseco and former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield were among the athletes who allegedly received drugs in the scam.
The investigators also seized about $200,000 in steroids and human growth hormone from a Brooklyn pharmacy Wednesday.
Photos on the Web site of Bev's Fitness show Weinberger and Francis with many famous athletes, including several who have connections to the BALCO steroid investigation.
Bodybuilding champions Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman were both BALCO clients, although neither was accused of receiving steroids from the San Francisco lab.
Another photo shows Weinberger and Francis with bodybuilder and fitness guru Milos Sarcev, who was part of the BALCO braintrust that developed a plan to make sprinter Tim Montgomery the fastest man in the world.
REFLECTIONS OF A NATURAL BODYBUILDER
The embodiment of personal responsibility, discipline, and commitment to a life built on the foundations of optimal wellbeing and impressive corporal aesthetics. Mario Strong's book tells the story of a mans life, his trials, disappointments and inspiring successes in the pursuit of becoming a champion in the field of bodybuilding, a sport that later had to have "Natural" preface the name to differentiate it from the drugs that came to soften its chiseled and Herculean image.
Reflections of a Natural Bodybuilder is a human-interest story about one man's insight into the world of bodybuilding. This compelling book explores how Staten Island bodybuilder Mario Strong implements his passion for natural bodybuilding to achieve his quest of health, strength, and longevity. However, his path towards accomplishing these goals is seen not without obstacles as he chronicles his unique history in a sport filled with nostalgia, hope, humor, ego, deceit, pharmaceuticals, pain, and death. Reflections of a Natural Bodybuilder also features tons of beneficial advice. From muscle-building workouts to fat-loss programs, you will find its in-depth natural bodybuilding guide not only informative, but also entertaining and inspirational as well. This fully illustrated book is a must read for the layman and athlete alike!