Friday, January 18, 2002

Fitness club worker charged in steroid trafficking

Mason club's owner denies allegations

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The assistant manager of a suburban fitness club faces charges of trafficking in anabolic steroids.

        But the owner of Body Masters Ultimate Fitness Club on Reading Road defended Kristopher Dill on Thursday, saying his arrest was a ploy in an undercover investigation that went sour.

        T.C. Sferra contended that Mr. Dill was arrested because police are trying to pressure him for evidence against an unidentified Mason police officer alleged to have exposed county undercover drug agents in the investigation.

        “They said what they were looking for is a bad cop,” Ms. Sferra said.

        Mr. Dill, 23, of Oregonia, was arrested Wednesday night as he worked at the fitness club, which was named 2001 Business of the Year by the Mason Landen Kings Chamber of Commerce.

        Trafficking charges also are being considered against another club employee who is believed to be the source of the illegal steroids, and up to three other people who may be charged for allegedly trying to stall the investigation, Warren County drug officials said.

        Mr. Dill, who also works as a personal fitness trainer at the club, is accused of offering to sell the illegal steroids — Winstrol and Deca-Durabolin — in late October to two undercover drug agents who posed as patrons of the club. The substances sometimes are illicitly used by athletes and body builders to increase strength and muscle mass.

        John Burke, commander of the Warren County Drug Task Force, also alleged that Mr. Dill told the agents he could obtain needles and syringes and give them explicit instructions on the use of the drugs.

        The brief investigation came to an abrupt halt in early November before the undercover agents could complete the purchase, Mr. Burke said. He declined to discuss the reason, except to say there were “problems.”

        “I'm not confirming or denying that we're looking at a police officer,” he said. “We're looking at two or three people potentially for obstructing official business.”

        But, Mason Chief Ron Ferrell said he was aware of allegations that one of his officers “said something they shouldn't have said about the investigation or had given a tip of the investigation.”

        He said he told Mr. Burke to finish the investigation and let him know the outcome.

        “We don't know exactly what the investigation is going to show. There is absolutely no concrete information. There is nothing substantive at this point to suggest anyone did anything inappropriate,” Chief Ferrell said.

        Mr. Dill, who is free on a $5,000 bond, declined comment. He is due to appear in Mason Municipal Court on Tuesday.

        Ms. Sferra denied that any drug trafficking occurred in her club.

        “This is a gym where hard-working moms and housewives and dads come after work to work out. This is not a place where a bunch of people do steroids. This is not a muscle-head gym,” Ms. Sferra said.

        She described Mr. Dill as a hard-working employee. She said she has known him since he was 16, and would continue to employ him at Body Masters while he works out his legal troubles.


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