>When Eric Garonzik goes before a Dauphin County judge to be sentenced in a steroids possession case Monday, he’ll be eyeing not at an end, but a new beginning, his lawyer said.
The ex-cop, bodybuilder and former West Shore health club owner expects to be sentenced to a stint in county prison, followed by probation, defense attorney Bryan S. Walk said.
Then, Walk said, Garonzik plans to try to rebuild his career in the physical fitness field.
“He has been in that field all of his life,” Walk said Friday. “He’s going to stay involved somewhere in the fitness industry. It’s what he knows.”
Garonzik, 40, of Lower Allen Twp., is scheduled to appear before Judge John F. Cherry because late last month he pleaded guilty to multiple charges of dealing illegally in steroids.
It is not his first conviction relating to performance-enhancing drugs.
Garonzik, a former part-time police officer in Tower City, Schuylkill County, served a prison term in Lehigh County in 2003 after pleading guilty to steroid possession and conspiracy.
The latest steroid-related charges stem from his November 2009 arrest in a bust the state attorney general’s office dubbed “Operation Roid Runner.”
Ten people, four of them from the midstate and the rest from Lehigh County, were charged after a two-year investigation. Among those arrested was Garonzik’s ex-wife, Stacy, 40, of Shiremanstown, another former body-builder.
Authorities claimed the Garonziks, who ran the now-closed Kinetics gym in Lemoyne, illegally sold solid and liquid steroids obtained from China, Panama and Mexico.
Stacy Garonzik also is accused of injecting clients with steroids. Her case is still pending in Dauphin County Court.
Walk said Eric Garonzik was prepared to fight the allegations against him and to challenge the credibility of prosecution witnesses, Walk said, but also had to weigh the risk of facing a state prison had he been convicted.
He said Eric Garonzik decided a plea agreement struck with the attorney general’s office was the better option.
Walk declined to elaborate on the terms of that agreement prior to sentencing. He said it is expected that Eric Garonzik, who has been free on bail, will be allowed to serve his time in the prison work-release program, followed by several years of probation.
“Eric decided to plead because he wanted to get [the criminal case] over with,” Walk said. “He’s trying to get his life back in order.”
While Eric Garonzik does admit to using steroids years ago for body-building, he is clean now and wasn’t using the substances when he and his ex-wife were arrested 17 months ago, Walk said.
“They didn’t catch Eric or Stacy with even one ounce of steroids,” he said. “Anything Eric did with steroids is a thing of the past.”
In addition to his 2003 steroid conviction, Eric Garonzik served jail terms in Cumberland County in 2004 and 2006 for a disorderly conduct case and an assault incident, respectively.
Court records show two criminal cases unrelated to the steroid charges are still pending against Eric Garonzik in Cumberland and Dauphin counties.
The Cumberland case involves simple assault and harassment charges filed last month by West Shore Regional Police. The other case deals with a traffic violation and a fleeing police charge filed in December by Harrisburg police.
The other three local men charged in Operation Roid Runner already have pleaded guilty and been sentenced by Dauphin County judges, according to court records.
Joel France, 43, of Harrisburg, was sentenced to 36 months probation in May and Christopher Levan, 37, of New Cumberland received a 24-month probation term in August.
In January, Robert Greynolds, 30, of Middletown, was sentenced to 24 months of intermediate punishment which started with one month in the county prison’s work-release center, followed by 6 months of house arrest.