By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — Baseball pitching great Roger Clemens was indicted Thursday on federal charges of lying to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The United States Attorney's office said Thursday that if convicted, Clemens could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, according to the New York Times. However, under current sentencing guidelines, he would likely face 15 to 21 months behind bars.
Shortly after word of the indictment came out, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner took to Twitter to defend himself.
"I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress," Clemens tweeted. "I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."
He signed the post, "Rocket."
Through the rest of the day, Clemens tweeted words of thanks to fans who retweeted his post and who also affirmed their support for him i the twitterverse.
There was no immediate word on when he would be arraigned. The 19-page indictment charged the former Yankees and Red Sox ace with three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, according to media reports.
The accusations, handed up by a federal grand jury in Washington, grew out of sworn testimony Clemens gave in 2008 to a House committee investigating the use of steroids in Major League Baseball.
In that testimony, Clemens flatly denied to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he had ever used steroids or any other banned performance drugs. He was challenged by his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who agreed to cooperate with investigators in exchange for inmunity from charges of distributing steroids.
McNamee was reported to have saved the syringes he used to inject Clemens with the drug, which were used as evidence in the investigation.
"Americans have a right to expect that witnesses who testify under oath before Congress will tell the truth," U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen said in a statement, according to the Times.
Clemens is the second baseball star in a decade to be indicted in connection with steroids. Barry Bonds, the former San Francisco Giants slugger, faces trial in March for statements he made to a grand jury.
Both men, once considered shoo-ins for the Hall of Fame, may face obstacles when they become eligible for induction in 2013.