Last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) unsealed an affidavit related to a more than year-long investigation into an anabolic steroid importing operation in Orange Beach. Though he hasn’t been officially indicted, Orange Beach resident Thomas Daniel “Danny” Williams is suspected of violating three federal laws, including the possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, the importation of controlled substances and international money laundering.
Though several substances, including cocaine and prescription hydrocodone, were listed as part of the investigation, the bulk of the affidavit focuses on anabolic steroids. According to the document, Williams, a personal fitness trainer, is said to have imported and distributed steroids including taitropin human growth hormone and methyl testosterone.
Based on the affidavit, the FBI believes at least some of those drugs were imported from places like China and Ukraine. FBI Agent Ketrick Kelley writes that early in his investigation he recovered “an empty bottle of human growth hormone” — a schedule III controlled substance — and “five used syringes” from a trashcan outside Williams’ house in April 2014.Kelley also cites two videos Williams posted to his public Facebook account showing him discussing steroids openly during the 2014 Interstate Mullet Toss.
Lagniappe was able to review the videos, which feature Williams filming several beachgoers and saying, “Look at all these new customers I got.” In a another video posted from the same day, Williams is heard saying, “I’m making a video for my new store online, steroids.com.”
As is typical in drug investigations, the agent set up several controlled buys using confidential sources. In June 2014, Kelley claims Williams sold a wired informant “Sustanon 300, a bottle of methyl testosterone and 10 unused syringes for $180.”
A second controlled buy was sent to Mississippi through the U.S. Postal Service the following month. Finally, in September, the FBI conducted a search of Williams’ home and seized several bottles of various steroids and syringes, according to Kelley’s affidavit.
In an interview conducted the same day, Kelley writes that Williams admitted to purchasing, using and selling steroids he imported from overseas. In subsequent interviews, Williams made similar admissions related to the distribution of cocaine, according to court records.
Based on Kelley’s statements, the majority of the overseas purchases were facilitated through Western Union. The company turned over a list of Williams’ transactions to the FBI during the course of the investigation and based on that information, Kelley found that between February 14, 2012, and July 16, 2014, “Williams used Western Union on approximately 10 different occasions to electronically transmit a total of $17,355” to China from a Winn-Dixie here in Alabama.
Despite the evidence being gathered almost a year ago and Williams’ own incriminating statements, the affidavit was only unsealed June 29, and since then the only action taken was a request for immediate detention that was ultimately denied.
In his affidavit, Kelley suggested Williams was “a danger to the community because of his drug use, drug sales, criminal history and propensity for violence, including acts of domestic violence.” However, at least in Orange Beach, the arrests listed for Williams don’t match the number of incidents cited in Kelley’s affidavit.
Kelley said he reviewed “numerous police incident reports involving Williams and acts of violence.” However, based on police reports from Orange Beach, Williams’ only previous arrest in the area was for an assault charge related to a bar fight at The Wharf in 2013 — an incident Kelley cited specifically in his affidavit. But during a bench trial before Circuit Judge Lang Floyd earlier this year, Williams was found not guilty of the assault.
A similar records request was made to the Gulf Shores Police Department, but so far those records have not been received.
Kelley’s concerns of Williams being a danger to the community weren’t enough to persuade Magistrate Judge William E. Cassady, who denied the FBI’s request to detain Williams during the course of the criminal case. Under his conditions of release, Williams was required to turn in his U.S. passport, which court records indicate he has done.
Though Williams hasn’t been indicted, arraigned or entered a plea, his attorney, Domingo Soto, said his client “has pretty much admitted what he’s done” with regard to the purchase and distribution of anabolic steroids.
He did say that other aspects of the affidavit, specifically the allegation of money laundering, were inaccurate and unfounded. Soto said the government was “throwing everything they could find” at his client, which he said is typical in federal criminal cases.
“If you look at the affidavit, his house was searched Sept. 3, 2014. He talks with them and then, eight months later they decide to come pluck him off the street,” Soto said. “They alleged he’s for some reason a danger now and needs to be put away. So they threw up every little thing they could find short of him spitting on the sidewalk, and the judge didn’t buy it.”
As for the comments Williams made about steroids in the Facebook videos from last year, Soto said his client was only joking with his friends.
“He was having fun on the Internet,” Soto said. “That’s probably the danger of saying some stuff on Facebook these days.”
Soto said he was sure Williams would be officially indicted relatively soon, but couldn’t explain why the government would delay the process so long unless they were trying to expand the case to include others related to the criminal activity.
Tommy Loftis, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Kenyen R. Brown’s Office, also couldn’t give a reason for the delay.