The Lakeland man responsible for amassing what authorities have called the largest collection of illegal steroids seized in Polk County history was sentenced Wednesday to eight months in federal prison.
Richard “Andy” Thomas claimed to investigators that he was the biggest steroid dealer in Central Florida, with clients who included professional athletes.
Following his arrest last year, he helped investigators build criminal cases against two other drug-related suspects, which was helpful in reducing his prison sentence.
Thomas, 36, also must serve three years of probation.
In November, he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute anabolic steroids.
Thomas was a bodybuilder who was known to spend time at Gold’s Gym on South Florida Avenue. Wearing a blue, button-down shirt and khaki pants, he appeared thinner at Wednesday’s hearing than in his jail book-in photo from May 27, 2009.
His mother, Barbara Thomas, testified that her son was diagnosed with diabetes when he was about 9 years old.
She said his condition has worsened after his stay in the county jail and during the months spent resolving his case.
She said he has difficulty monitoring and regulating his blood sugar.
U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. commented that Richard Thomas sold a lot of steroids over a long period of time.
Richard Thomas told the judge that he knew his actions were wrong, and vowed not to go back to his life as a steroid seller.
“I’m done with it,” he said.
Thomas’ lawyer, A. Fitzgerald Hall, said his client began using steroids at a young age and became addicted to them.
Hall asked that Thomas receive probation and perhaps do community service, such as speak to youths about the dangers of steroids.
Prosecutors requested eight months in prison. Thomas had been facing a recommended sentence of 12 to 18 months in prison. But prosecutors filed a motion seeking a more lenient punishment for Thomas because he worked with investigators to build cases against a chiropractor accused of buying steroids and a state corrections officer accused of trying to buy 300 Valium pills.
Thomas helped introduce Deborah Frisina, who worked at the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, to an undercover deputy, records state.
A sting took place in June 2009. Frisina, 52, later pleaded no contest to drug charges and was sentenced to three years of probation, according to court records.
In March, Douglas Owen Nagel, 50, a Virginia chiropractor who has treated members of the Washington Capitals hockey team, was arrested.
Nagel was released April 15 from the Polk County Jail and continues to face steroid-related charges in Florida, records show.
Investigators said Thomas bragged about selling steroids to professional athletes.
Nagel is accused of buying steroids from Thomas.
When Nagel was arrested in March, Sheriff Grady Judd said his deputies had “no conclusive proof” that athletes bought steroids from Nagel.
Judd reported Nagel has said he bought the steroids for personal use.
Carrie Eleazer, a Polk sheriff’s spokeswoman, said on Wednesday that detectives are still investigating whether any steroids were sold to athletes.
The Washington Capitals have commented previously that Nagel isn’t a “team chiropractor” and isn’t affiliated with the team. Some players had gone to Nagel’s office for “standard, routine chiropractic services.”
The steroid investigation began in May 2009 when the Polk County Sheriff’s Office learned from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that a shipment of steroids was caught being shipped to Thomas’ home, according to a search warrant.
The package was delivered to the home on Stoney Creek Drive in Lakeland with an electronic beacon wired to signal an alert when it was opened. When the beacon went off, detectives entered the house, and Thomas was inside with the opened package, court records said.
Thomas and his wife, Sandra, were arrested, but charges against her were later dropped.
The Sheriff’s Office estimated investigators recovered the county’s largest collection of illegal steroids in the home, including thousands of pills, syringes and vials. The agency also reported finding firearms.