Bodybuilder Anthony Cuppari pleads guilty.

A key figure arrested in connection with an illegal steroid manufacturing and distribution ring in the Hanovers and Florham Park pleaded guilty today to distributing steroids to a juvenile and distributing cocaine to an adult.

Bodybuilder Anthony Cuppari, 27, of East Hanover, now faces being sentenced on April 9 to up to 10 years in prison.

Cuppari was among 16 people arrested in March 2007 in a case stemming from an investigation that began in November 2006. That probe centered on Cuppari and his best friend, Michael Dente, also a bodybuilder of East Hanover, and their charges included using Dente’s basement to manufacture the steroids, authorities have said.

Cuppari is the last of the group to have entered a guilty plea in the case during the past two years.

The only other co-defendant whose sentencing is pending, professional bodybuilder Jason Arntz of South Brunswick, who pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to manufacture steroids.

Arntz had provided the expertise for manufacturing the steroids, although Cuppari and Dente also got information off the Web, authorities had said.

But Cuppari, a personal trainer who had been a volunteer assistant Hanover Park high school football coach, is the only one of the group who pleaded guilty to distributing steroids to a minor, and the only one to face an enhanced penalty. Cuppari pleaded guilty to a pair of third-degree charges: distribution of anabolic steroids to a juvenile and conspiracy to distribute one gram of cocaine to his then-girlfriend, an adult.

The juvenile, a then-17-year-old member of the Hanover Park High football team, also had been accused of buying gamma hydroxybuterate (GHB) from Cuppari, authorities had said.

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