NEW YORK -- A "proffer" agreement between former Yankees strength coach Brian McNamee and federal prosecutors opened the door for McNamee to discuss what he knew about baseball's performance-enhancing drugs problem with the Mitchell investigation without fear of punishment, according to a story in Tuesday's New York Times.
By signing the one-page agreement, McNamee was able to speak freely, his lawyer, Earl Ward, told The Times. The Department of Justice agreed that his testimony wouldn't be used in any possible drug distribution cases, as long as McNamee continued to cooperate.
There were similar arrangements with two other key witnesses in the Mitchell investigation, players Larry Bigbie and Chad Allen, The Times reported. Federal agents monitored their discussions with Mitchell report investigators for truthfulness as well.
According to The Times, the government had information on Bigbie and Allen that could have been used to charge them with drug distribution. The Times cited "people who have been briefed on the case and were given anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it."
A proffer, signed by both prosecutors and a person involved in an investigation, allows that person to tell prosecutors what they know without fear of having it used against them in a trial. The government gets information which it can then follow up in leads.
The proffer agreement had not been previously reported, The Times said. It is significant, according to the paper, because Roger Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said Thursday that McNamee wasn't a reliable witness because of the threat under which he testified.
Hardin said Clemens was "outraged that his name is included in the report based on the uncorroborated allegations of a troubled man threatened with criminal prosecution."
McNamee said he injected Clemens with human growth hormone several times starting in 1998, according to the Mitchell report.
Monday, Clemens was heard from for the first time since the Mitchell report was released. According to a story in the New York Daily News, Clemens said:
"I'm not talking to y'all about it" when approached outside his son's elementary school in Piney Point Village, close to Houston.
"We'll handle this our way," he said, according to the Daily News. Local police helped keep reporters away from Clemens.