On December 8, 2007, IFBB professional bodybuilder Hidetada Yamagishi was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after a random search of Yamagishi’s luggage found Yamagishi to be in possession of a controlled substance. Yamagishi, a citizen of Japan, was on his way back to California, where he had recently relocated, from his home country. According to documents released by the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, Yamagishi is charged with six felonies and three misdemeanors.
The felonies are: unlawful possess for sale and purchase for sale a controlled substance, trenbolone; unlawful possess for sale and purchase for sale a controlled substance, testosterone; unlawful possess for sale and purchase for sale a controlled substance chorionic gonadotropin; unlawful possess for sale and purchase for sale of a controlled substance mesterolone; unlawful possess for sale and purchase for sale of a controlled substance, oxandrolone; unlawful transport, import into the state of California, sell, furnish, administer and give away and offer to transport, import into the State of California, sell furnish, administer and give away, and attempt to import into the State of California and transport a controlled substance trenbolone, chorionic gonadotropin, testosterone, mesterolone, oxandrolone and stanozolol.
Yamagishi’s bail was set at $180,000, but because of an immigration hold, he remains incarcerated in the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic, California. Yamagishi has appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court twice, once on January 8 and most recently on January 23. On January 23, the court set a prelim date for February 6. (Click for an account of Yamagishi’s second appearance.)
According to Shawn Chapman Holley, Yamagishi’s attorney, the defense is hoping to prove the quantity of steroids in Yamagishi’s possession make it clear that he was not transporting with the intent to sell.
“It’s clear that the quantity of steroids at issue is consistent with personal use and far less than one would expect to see in a case of sales.,” Chapman Holley said. “Moreover the quantity is consistent with what one would expect to see for a bodybuilder with the competition schedule Hide had posted on his Website before his arrest.”
Yamagishi’s case is being tried in state, not federal court, which is atypical of a case of this nature. That, in part, is why Yamagishi’s case has proceeded at this pace.
“This is an unusual case of state court and that’s part of the reason,” Chapman Holley said. “Everybody in the state court system, myself included, has to be educated on anabolic steroids use and quantities. The state system is generally easier to navigate from a defendant’s standpoint than the federal system, so we’re happy it’s in state court. But it’s just a matter of making sure that everybody understands what is – and more importantly what it is not.”
Since Yamagishi is not a citizen of the United States, he runs the risk of having his visa revoked if he is found guilty on any of the charges. Yamagishi currently has an 01 visa, which is given to people who possess extraordinary talents and abilities, such as professional athletes. Yamagishi also runs the risk of not being allowed re-entry into the US for any period of time, which will put his future as a competitive bodybuilder in jeopardy. That, however, will be a separate immigration case, which will take place after the criminal case has been decided. “All of that is in jeopardy and is almost certainly going to be lost,” Chapman Holley said of the 01 visa. “There’s also likelihood that he will be deported.”
Chapman Holley, however, remains cautiously optimistic. “I am hopeful that on February 6th we will have worked out a deal where, hopefully he will plead guilty to a misdemeanor count and be placed on summary probation with credit for time served and that will be the end of the criminal case.”
“That is going to give him the best chance to be able to come back to the United States and compete. I’m hoping that the district attorney’s office shares my view that those criminal acts, the only person that is placed in any potential jeopardy is Hide, if he chooses to take steroids. And why do we want to destroy this person’s entire career and livelihood and life? He’s been in custody since the time he was arrested, that’s a very long time, and he is going to have a very long immigration fight in front of him, so let’s let that be the punishment.”
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