The Piledriver Report 03.14.13: The History of Vince McMahon’s Wrestling Empire: Part Nine
Posted by Ronny Sarnecky on 03.14.2013
This week’s “Piledriver Report” continues to look back at the beginnings of the Vince McMahon Steroid Trial, as well as the testimony of the prosecution’s key witness in the Vince McMahon steroid trial.
One of the most famous wrestlers in the history of the World Wrestling Federation, the Ultimate Warrior, was the next witness to take the stand. The real life Jim Hellwig told the court that he used testosterone and decadurabolin before and after he started his wrestling career. The Warrior said that he would talk to other wrestlers about steroids, and estimated that between 85-90% of the wrestlers in the WWF tried steroids at one time or another. The prosecution asked Hellwig if "Hershey, PA was known for one specific person." The Warrior gave a two-word response, "Doctor Zahorian." Although he admitted to never receiving any steroids from Zahorian, Hellwig told the court that Zahorian would provide wrestlers with steroids, pain killers, and sleeping pills. Hellwig said that he witnessed wrestlers leaving Zahorian's "office" with white boxes. According to Hellwig, in 1989, Vince McMahon asked Hellwig if he would be able to get him (Vince) Human Growth Hormone. The prosecution then asked about an incident that occurred in February 1991. After a wrestling card at the Capital Centre, Hellwig left his steroids in his hotel room. Upon returning home to Dallas, TX, Hellwig received a call from McMahon said that Vince was upset during the call. Hellwig didn't initially admit that the steroids were his. At the next TV tapings, Vince told the Warrior that things are starting to get heated up with Zahorian being indicted. Hellwig testified that Vince never told him to quit taking steroids.
Upon cross-examination, Hellwig once again stated that he didn't feel that him taking steroids was illegal. Jim told that court that he first started taking steroids in 1984 to prepare for the Mr. Georgia contest. Hellwig informed the court that he didn't get his physique from just taking steroids. He told the court that he would sometimes work out at 2:00am. He watched his diet. "I didn't drink or smoke. I'd make the sacrifices to achieve goals in bodybuilding." He once again stated that he was able to easily get steroids before and during his WWF tenure. He mentioned that when he broke into wrestling in Tennessee in 1985, there were wrestlers in that territory doing steroids. Hellwig told the court that he received steroids from "more then five to ten physicians," but never from Dr. Zahorian. Hellwig explained that he got steroids from a doctor who worked for the Texas State Athletic Commission, and also for World Class Championship Wrestling. Hellwig said that he was never given a physical for the steroids. He wanted the roids, and they would write him a prescription. Another source that he would get steroids from was a gym owner in Louisville, KY. Hellwig said that Vince never told him to take steroids. Hellwig admitted that he didn't know that the law was going to change in 1991. He said that he didn't know that steroid use was already regulated. Hellwig also said that he didn't know what the laws were regarding HGH.
McMahon's attorney talked about a memo dated January 25, 1991 telling the wrestlers of the upcoming law change regarding steroid possession. She told the court that Hellwig was never charged by law enforcement in regards to the Baltimore hotel incident. Hellwig said that he couldn't remember whether or not he received the memo. The prosecutor finished the questioning of Jim Hellwig by asking him two questions. In regards to the Baltimore incident, O'Shea asked "Was McMahon mad about you using steroids or getting caught?" Hellwig answered "Getting caught." The prosecutor questioned, "He wasn't mad about you doing steroids?" Hellwig gave a one word answer, "No." The final question the prosecutor asked was "Mr. McMahon knew you were using steroids?" The Warrior answered, "Yes."
The next witness for the prosecution was Margaret Sharkey. Margaret started to work for Titan Sports in 1985 when she was hired from a temp agency. Her duties now include handling domestic event contracts. Margaret told the court that she only talked to Dr. Zahorian one time when she answered the phone for Anita Scales. She said that neither Anita nor herself wanted Zahorian working any events because of his drug selling business that he had with the wrestlers. Margaret said that Pat Patterson wanted to use Zahorian because "the boys loved him." Although she never talked to any of the road agents, Margaret did talk to Patterson about Zahorian. Margaret said that, in November, Anita said they were going to use Zahorian, but she wasn't happy about it. She sent a letter to Gest of the commission saying that the WWF was going to use Dr. Zahorian in Hershey, PA. She then sent a letter to Zahorian, which she photo copied and put in her and Anita's private files. She then wrote another letter to Zahorian on December 4th stating that they wouldn't be using him after all, because there would be V.I.Ps there, and the WWF didn't want them to see Zahorian.
During cross-examination, Margaret said that she is best friends with Scales, and that they never discussed the case per the prosecution's instructions. She admitted that they did talk while Hellwig was on the stand. She told the court that she talked to Zahorian once when he called asking to work Hershey. When he was told that the territory was already assigned, Zahorian said that he would go over her head. Regarding the October 2nd memo, Margaret said that Anita did not write the memo, she was the one that did. She said that the letter requesting Zahorian to work the December 26th show was typed up at the request of Pat Patterson or another top executive. McDevitt asked Margaret about the conversation between Linda McMahon and Anita Scales. McDevitt asked that since Margaret didn't hear the actual conversation could Anita have embellished about the conversation. She said that Anita didn't lie or embellish, and that Anita wasn't ranting and raving. The two of them were just mad about the situation.
On Wednesday, the morning opened with Doug Sages being called to testify in the case. Sages has worked as the WWF's chief financial officer since 1985. He told the court that the World Wrestling Federation is a Delaware corporation, as Delaware has favorable tax laws for corporations. He said that the company is solely owned by Vincent Kennedy McMahon. He said that the company is classified as an S corporation, which means all profits go directly to McMahon. He said that Terry Bollea was a big star and a huge moneymaker. Sages talked about a conversation that he had with McMahon in May 1988. Sages said that said that Vince wanted cash to "do a transaction in a quiet fashion." He told Vince how to use cash and company checks to buy banks checks that do not have an individual's name on them. He said that Vince wanted between $1,000-$2,000 to purchase steroids for himself and Hogan. He said that they took the money from petty cash. He had a conversation during a later date with Emily Feinberg, which he didn't initially remember. He said that Emily needed a bank check for $650.00 to pay Zahorian. He assumed it was for steroids, but didn't know for sure. The check was made out to Union Trust, which was listed in their books as medical expenses. The prosecutor produced a copy of the check dated June 21, 1988. Sages, in his grand jury testimony, said that they could locate the copies of the check. He said that a second check was written for Union Trust paying $530.00 to Zahorian on October 18, 1989 for medical expenses. He said the checks were considered a cost of doing business. Sages told the court that the company was generally a profitable company, and during its best year, they were $6 million in the black.
When McDevitt cross-examined Sages, he was told that Sages didn't know if the steroids were for Vince's personal use or for Vince and Hogan. He said that he was looking for any records of payments to Zahorian for 8 to 10 weeks, but only found two checks. The checks totaled $1,180.00. The defense said that as an S-corporation, Vince had the right to take any money from the company for his use, because the company's assets were also his personal assets. McDevitt told the court that the company was audited every year from 1986 to 1991 looking into the "independent contractor status" of the wrestlers, and never made any objections to it. McDevitt said that Vince never told Sages why he needed the money. Sages said that the checks were labeled as medical expenses because the clerk saw "Dr." written on the check, so they assumed the checks were to cover something of a medical nature. Sages said that no top executives requested that the checks be labeled as medical expenses. Sages said that the cash transaction was the only time that Vince mentioned money being used to pay for steroids. He said that the checks were traceable and nobody from the FDA ever investigated them regarding steroid purchases from Zahorian. He also said that he was never told to destroy any records.
McMahon's other attorney, Brevetti, asked if Emily Feinberg ever told him that the $650.00 check was for steroids. He said that they never discussed it, and that Vince never told him to record it as medical expenses.
In his final line of questioning, the prosecutor asked Sages if Vince said the steroid purchase was for his own personal use. Sages answered "Yes." O'Shea then countered, "Didn't he say himself and Terry Bollea?" Sages again said, "Yes." O'Shea was quick to note that "Mr. Bollea is a different person, that's not personal use." Sages agreed.
The next witness was Emily Feinberg. Emily was supposed to be the key witness for the prosecution. Emily was employed with Titan Sports from July 1987 until September 1991. Her first year at Titan Sports, she worked as the secretary for Dick Glover. The following year, she was promoted to Vince McMahon's Executive Assistant. In her testimony, Emily said that she was responsible for drug testing. Emily said that she would tell Vince about tests that came back positive for drugs, such as opiates and barbiturates. However, Vince was only concerned with tests for cocaine that came back with a positive result. Feinberg said that McMahon told her that "the life of a wrestler was very grueling. They needed drugs to get up, drugs to sleep, and drugs to control their roid rages." Emily explained to the court that roid rages were personality flair ups. Wrestlers would get very angry, and were "prone to fighting and being very antagonistic while on steroids." Emily said that when they heard about a wrestler tearing up a hotel room, they blamed it on roid rage. Emily mentioned that she talked to Patterson about the hotel incidents, and he was concerned that it was due to cocaine or roid rage.
When talking about Hulk Hogan, Feinburg said that the Hulkster was their most important star, and received star treatment by the company. Office workers were not allowed to call Hogan at his home. The office would hire limousines to drive him around the towns, and they would provide him with charter flights for him to take back home after the shows.
Emily first heard about steroids from Vince McMahon following her first summer as his Executive Assistant. She learned terms like "juice," "gas," and "rigs," which was a slang term for "needles." She told the court that everybody talked about steroids. Besides discussing it with Vince, she discussed steroids with Pat Patterson on more then twenty different occasions.
In June 1988, Vince asked her to send an untraceable check to Dr. Zahorian for a package that was sent to them. She called Dr. Zahorian, got the address from Anita Scales, and went to Benny Morales of the WWF's financial department for the check.
As part of the evidence, the prosecution examined Emily's old steno notebooks that she kept when she worked for Titan Sports. McMahon's attorneys objected to the steno pads. They claimed that, since Feinberg had the books in her possession from early 1992 when she took them from the office after she left the company until the time she turned the books over to the prosecution, she could have doctored up the notes. The judge in the case excused the jury while McMahon's attorney, Laura Brevetti. Brevetti claimed that many of the pages in the eighty page notebooks were missing. The judge threw out this reasoning, as many people in a work environment throw out pages in notebooks as part of them being used as scrap paper. The judge allowed the steno pads to be entered into evidence.
The prosecution asked about the payment made to Zahorian in June 1988. She said that Vince wanted to send something that was untraceable. The note in her steno book read, "June 20th, 1988: Dr. George Zahorian, Anita Scales, $680.00, send a MO, Doug, not a corporate check." Feinberg said that she called Zahorian to find out how much money needed to be sent to him. She told the prosecution that the order was already placed before she sent the money.
McMahon told her that he needed to get a refrigerator put into his office for cold sodas. One day, while filing the fridge with sodas, Emily noticed that there was medicine in the refrigerator. Vince later told her that the medicine was a steroid that needed to be refrigerated.
The prosecution asked her if she ever purchased steroids for Hulk Hogan. She said "yes," and explained how it worked. When the shipment would come in, Vince would separate the steroids, and give some to his driver. The driver would then take the "package" to Hogan at the Meadowlands, the Nassau Coliseum, and Madison Square Garden. This happened on numerous occasions. On the occasions where the driver didn't take the package to Hogan, Feinberg would Fed Ex the packages to Hogan's home. She said that she never sent the packages to Hogan on her own. Vince would divide up the steroids, and then ask her to send the shipment to Hogan. She said that Vince McMahon started to use steroids while Hogan was filming "No Holds Barred" during the summer of 1988.
The prosecution asked about other note pad entries. December 7, 1988 had a note read "Needles and stuff." Emily explained that note meant that Vince needed needles and steroids. December 20, 1988 read "B-12 and rigs," which meant that Vince needed injectable Vitamin B-12, steroids, and needles. December 29, 1988's note also asked for "B-12 and rigs." An entry on December 30, 1988 asked "rigs at TV? B-12 and rigs again." The translation of this note meant that she needed to find out if Vince needed her to pack steroids and needles for him to take with him to the TV tapings. March 20, 1989 had a note that read "Give Hulk stuff." The note was reminding her to give Hogan steroids. April 10, 1989's note had a one word entry, "rigs," which meant that Vince needed more needles and steroids. A day later, Emily entered a note stating "Call Hulk rigs," which was telling her to call Hogan to see if he needed more needles and steroids. October 11, 1989, "Zahorian 1 ½ rigs, batch of deca, 4 bottles of HCG personal $530.00." This note was translated as Vince needed her to order a certain gauge of needles, more steroids, and four bottles of HCG. October 16, 1989's note read "Zahorian," which meant to call Zahorian to place an order. October 18, 1989, "Zahorian deca Zahorian" was telling her to order decadurabolin from Zahorian. She admitted that Dr. Zahorian sent her steroids, and she passed them down to Hulk Hogan. Emily said that he and Linda heard that Zahorian was being investigated from an attorney friend of theirs, and that he got word to the boys not to use Zahorian anymore.
Her notes included no entries about steroids in the year 1990. In January 1991, Vince wanted anything in the files that related to Dr. Zahorian to be destroyed. On January 25, 1991, he wanted to check the Fed Ex roster to see if there were records of steroid packages that were sent by Zahorian. The two put together a memo stating the steroid laws and letting the wrestlers know that if they were using steroids for treatment of injuries, they needed to carry a prescription with them. The prosecutor told the court that this memo was drafted on the same day that Vince asked for all of the records on Zahorian be destroyed. There was a January 28, 1991 note that listed the message "check roids correspondence." This note meant that Vince didn't want anything in the office that was traceable to Zahorian or steroids. She said that Vince was mad that some wrestlers were still using Zahorian as their steroid supplier. She told the court that Vince had a bunch of steroids left from his last cycle, and asked if she would take them home until "things died down." She thought that she threw them all away, but later found one vial. The vial was then tested. On March 29, 1994, the vial was found to contain decadurabolin. The serial number on this vial was identical to the serial number on a vial of decadurabolin that was bought by William Dunn from Dr. Zahorian on October 18, 1989 when Dunn was working as police informant, indicating the vial came from Zahorian.
On cross-examination, Emily told the court that she had visits from government officials on five different occasions, and around 15 phone calls from them regarding the case. She said that her attorney told her that they should initially contact the government. She testified that she talked to the government the day before she started testifying. She said that she told them about the steroid shipments and distribution for Hulk Hogan. She admitted that the government did not inform her of the questions that she would be asked on the stand. She told McDevitt that she didn't keep any logs of her calls with the government. In early 1990, Vince McMahon contacted hepatitis. Emily admitted that it was at that point that Vince stopped using steroid. Feinberg talked about the vial of decadurabolin that she found after talking to the government. She said that she found it underneath some ski clothes, and was surprised when she saw it. She said that she didn't immediately turn the vial over to the government. However, once she realized that the vial could be a key piece of evidence, she turned it in. Emily told the court that she held on to Vince's steroids when he was using them. She said that the time frame of Vince's final steroid cycle was from October 18, 1989 until December 19, 1989. Her December 1989 notes did not indicate any knowledge about Zahorian being investigated by the government. Emily admitted that she heard about the investigation in the fall of 1990. She said that in December 1989, Vince never asked her to destroy in records. Emily said that she didn't remove steroids from McMahon's office until after he contracted hepatitis. McDevitt then asked Emily about each individual package sent to Feinberg from Zahorian. He wanted to know the answers to a few questions. Did she know the packs contained steroids? Did she order the shipments? Did she talk to Zahorian about the shipments? Did she see Vince give steroids from these shipments to Hulk Hogan? The packages in question were from June 18, 1988, July 21, 1988, and December 21, 1988. She couldn't remember anything regarding the shipments.
Her recollection of a package from April 13, 1989 was just as fuzzy. She couldn't remember if she ordered it directly with Zahorian, or if she saw what was in the package. She didn't know if Vince opened the package in front of her, if he sent parts of the package to Hogan, if Jim Stuart delivered any part of the package to Hogan, or if she Fed Ex'ed it to Hogan.
McDevitt then compared Emily's grand jury testimony to her trial testimony. In her grand jury testimony, she said that she ordered steroids for Hogan three times. However, in her trial testimony, she said that she ordered steroids for him about six to seven times. During her grand jury interview, she said that she saw Vince divide the steroids between his stash and Hogan's, and one time he took some of the contents out and gave them to Jim Stuart. McDevitt said that Emily talked about Stuart's deliveries , but didn't say anything about the Fed Ex shipments during her grand jury testimony. However, in her trial testimony, she talked about the Fed Ex deliveries.
She had no memory in regards to the May 11th, and May 16th packages. When asked about the October 24th package, Emily said that she said Zahorian for decadurabolin and HCG. She admitted to calling Zahorian and ordering needles, a batch of deca, and four bottles of HCG. She never mentioned Hogan to Zahorian. However, she said that some of the package's contents went to Hogan. However, she couldn't remember if it was sent to a local arena, or to his house. She said that she went to the finance department in order to pay for the package. She wasn't sure if this was the shipment of steroids that she took home with her, but said that she did take home 15 vials of steroids. When asked how it was decided how much steroids Hogan would get from the packages, Emily said that it was Vince's decision. McDevitt asked if the shipment was delivered to Hogan. She said yes, but wasn't sure if it was Fed Ex'ed or delivered by Stuart.
McDevitt then talked about the grand jury testimony again. McDevitt said that in this testimony, Emily said that she saw McMahon "physically separate the bottles" and was given some of the bottles to give to Stuart to deliver to Hogan. McDevitt pointed out that the October Nassau Coliseum show was held on October 20th. Therefore, the package could not have been for that show. Emily said that she didn't remember if she talked to Hogan about the October 24th shipment. However, in her grand jury testimony in December 1992, admitted the roids were ordered by Hogan, and that except for the October 24th package, she never ordered steroids from Zahorian.
Emily said that she destroyed the cover letter for the first time she wrote to Zahorian was because she was told to destroy all of the documents. However, she admitted that was the only document she destroyed. Emily told the court that she destroyed drug-testing records in March 1991 because "things were getting too hot," even though McDevitt pointed out that the government had yet to subpoena their records.
McMahon's other attorney, Laura Brevetti, was next to question Emily Feinberg. She tried to get the jury to believe that Emily Feinberg, a former Playboy Playmate, was an actress playing a character in this trial. Emily said that she is not an actress. She said that she was a model. Emily admitted to appearing in a promotional video, but there was no script. Therefore, she did not consider t acting. Brevetti tried to imply that Brevetti was "dressing down" in court to hide her appearance, and that she didn't dress that way when she was working for Titan Sports. Emily countered Brevetti's argument by stating that she has worn that particular outfit many times to the Titan Sports offices when she worked there. Emily said that McMahon admitted to her that Hogan taught him how to use steroids while he was in Atlanta for the filming of Hogan's movie "No Holds Barred." Emily told the court that McMahon never ordered steroids for anyone besides Hogan and himself. She also admitted that Vince never told any wrestlers that they should use steroids. Brevetti mentioned that a note in Emily's steno pad had a message stating "check roids correspondence. She said that the word "destroy never appeared on the note. Emily told Brevetti that Vince wanted her to destroy all records referring to Dr. Zahorian.
Emily talked about the January 25, 1991 memo that was sent to the wrestlers. She said the note was sent to help explain the new laws in making steroid possession illegal. Emily said that she believed that she accompanied Vince McMahon to the Nassau Coliseum card. This testimony countered Pat Patterson earlier claim that Vince only went to house shows that took place at Madison Square Garden. Emily did not recall if she had seen Vince McMahon in possession of steroids in Nassau County after April 13, 1989. Emily told the court that she never opened and divided the contents of a package when it arrived. Nor did she open a package first, as McMahon always opened it first. Brevetti mentioned a note inn Emily's steno notes that talked about Hogan's merchandise. Emily said that she would not have done that. Emily also denied that Vince and Linda were vacationing in Europe together on April 13th. However, it was later proven that the McMahons were in Europe on vacation from April 12-17, 1989. She didn't think that she was in Los Angeles with Vince the next week. Although, it was proven that was when she shot the promotional video in LA. Brevetti tried to prove that the April 11th note regarding Hogan was due to a letter that she sent to Hogan based on his disagreement over whether he or the company should have to pay for two charter flights that he used to take back home from the matches.
The defense entered into court a copy of a letter that was sent to Hogan, which stated that $5,000.00 would be deducted from his next paycheck for the flights. Emily's employment at Titan Sports ended in September 1991, yet she received her full salary for a year after the termination. Her husband, a script writer for Titan Sports, left the company in August 1992. The duo were negotiating for continued payment after Emily's husband left the company. Brevetti told the court that Emily's lawyer asked for her to receive payments after 1992. Emily countered that "We (Emily and her husband) were offered the payments." Brevetti said that they demanded it. When Emily said that she doesn't remember a demand, the defense showed a letter that was sent by Emily's attorneys asking for payment. Emily said that it wasn't a demand, but more a part of the negotiation process. Brevetti informed the court that Emily was offered immunity for her testimony. Brevetti talked about Emily's grand jury testimony. In it, Emily said that no packages with steroids were ever Fed Ex'ed to Hogan. Emily finished her testimony with the defense saying that she didn't write down every steroid distribution act in her note pad.
On July 14th, the first witness to take the stand was Detective Gregory Taylor. Detective Taylor was a police officer with the Lower Paxton Police Department in Harrisburg, PA. The reason he was brought to the court room was to show a vial of decadurabolin that was obtained when Bill Dunn bought it from Dr. Zahorian on October 18, 1989 which matched the serial number of the steroid that was in Emily Feinberg's possession.
The next witness that was about to testify was the biggest star in wrestling history. Read next week's edition of "The Piledriver Report" when we examine the testimony of Hulk Hogan.
***The facts for this article were taken out of excerpts from past issues of "The Wrestling Observer" newsletter.***