When Your Local Cops Are Steroid Dealers, Part 2 – The Philadelphia Police Department

The personal use of anabolic steroids by cops is seemingly widespread but perhaps the cops who are dealing steroids are much more of rarity. Maybe officers like Sgt. Steve Santucci think they can get away with it in small towns like Newton, Connecticut with a population of less than 30,000 but certainly this type of brazen corruption would never fly in the big city. Would it?

The case of Keith Gidelson would suggest otherwise. A 14-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), Gidelson served at the rank of detective on the United States’ fourth largest police force (behind the New York City Police Department, Chicago Police Department and Los Angeles Police Department). The Philadelphia Police has over 7400 employees including 6600 officers and 800 civilian personnel. The PPD is responsible for service a population of over 1.5 million. And guess what? Corruption is alive and well in the big city too.

Gidelson had apparently started selling steroids after an on-the-job car crash resulted in the detective taking medical leave from the PPD. He starting selling the steroids to some of his colleagues at PPD. He then tried to go big-time by soliciting customers on popular bodybuilding forums such as Steroid.com and Bodybuilding.com. It soon became a substantial source of income for him. He decided to pursue it full-time. But all good things, especially when they are illegal, tend to come to an end.

Gidelson was eventually caught and identified as the ringleader of a major anabolic steroid distribution ring in a 17-count indictment involving 15 co-conspirators handed down by a federal grand jury in April 2011.

Gidelson distributed anabolic steroids on behalf on the international-based underground lab known as Sciroxx. A California co-defendent was responsible for receiving large jugs of anabolic steroids and repackaging them into individual 10-milliliter vials for commercial resale to the end user. The co-defendent forwarded the finished products to Gidelson. The specific products included items such as Testodex Enthanthate 250, Testodex Cypionate 250, Nandrodex 300 and Trenadex Enanthate 200.

Once again, Gidelson was another cop who clearly thought he was above the law and the rules did not apply to him. Gidelson must have felt a sense of immunity from prosecution since he once was “the law”. This would explain why Gidelson took few security precautions to hide his illegal enterprise. Assistant United States Attorney David Axelrod said it was a piece of cake to catch Gidelson.

After all, Gidelson primary choice of community with all of his lower-level dealers and clients was SMS text messaging. His clients submitted their orders via text message. Gidelson would respond via text message when the steroids were ready for pickup. The incriminating evidence obtained from Gidelson’s mobile phone was quite damning. Maybe Gidelson thought he was being clever when he chose to use the code word “books” instead of “steroids”. No one would ever think that there was anything suspicious about his extensive book-selling via SMS. Of course, Gidelson was wrong.

“Gidelson had a consistent system for distributing these steroids,” Axelrod told KYW Newsradio. “When he received a new shipment of steroids, he would call or send text messages to these customers. Sometimes these calls or texts were brief and in code. For instance, Gidelson and some of his co-conspirators used the term ‘books’ to refer to steroids.”

But frequently, Gidelson and his clients dispensed with the use of code and simply referred to the steroids by their commonly used names e.g. Test, Deca, Sus, and Cyp, etc.

The SMS records revealed that some of Gidelson’s clients were also providing (distributing) the steroids to others which essentially made them Gidelson’s lower level dealers.

“I need 3 test .. 1 CYP .. 1 SUST AND 1 DECA when I come over and I wanna stay on test I’m off,” a client texted to Gidelson in February 2011. “Please don’t forget my two bottles I only have 1 deca left and had my buddie wait for 1 week for the sust.”

“I need to get a deca and cyp tonight . . . it’s for the guy who always get me work at the Roxy,” the client continued in another text message. “I wanted to hook him up. I wanted to try and get it for him.”

Federal prosecutors recommended that Gidelson be sentenced to 30 to 37 months in prison as part of a plea agreement. However, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond showed nothing but contempt for Gidelson. Diamond recognized that a law enforcement officer who sells steroids is far more troubling that a private individual who sells steroids.

“[Gidelson sounded like] a drug dealer who thought the world of himself,” Judge Diamond said. “He preened, he boasted, he bloviated… That he had served as a police officer makes his fall into criminality all the more serious.”

Diamond sentenced Gidelson to a prison term that far exceeded the prosecutor’s recommendations. Gidelson and his attorneys were shocked to be handed down a 48-month sentenced instead of what they thought could be as few as 30 months in prison.

Can cops get any more corrupt than those dirty cops who operate underground steroid labs or become top domestic steroid resellers? Find out in our next installment.

The Complete Series: When Your Local Cops Are Steroid Dealers


  • Martin, J. (January 8, 2013). Former Philadelphia Officer Gidelson gets four years for selling steroids. Retrieved from http://articles.philly.com/2013-01-09/news/36218731_1_drug-dealer-keith-gidelson-diamond

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