Ellerman resigns

Troy Ellerman, who pleaded guilty last week to leaking secret grand jury documents in the BALCO steroids case, has resigned as commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

"Due to the fact that I have entered a plea of guilty in the BALCO case, I believe it is in the best interest of the PRCA to resign from my position as commissioner," Ellerman was quoted as saying in a PRCA news release. "I believe it is in the best interest of the PRCA to resign from my position as commissioner. My resignation will be effective immediately."

The PRCA board of directors accepted Ellerman's resignation during a telephone conference call Monday night, board member Steve Gilbert said.

Ellerman, a defense attorney who represented two executives of the lab at the center of the doping scandal, admitted in U.S. district court that he gave reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada of the San Francisco Chronicle access to grand jury documents. The Chronicle reports helped fuel the international doping scandal and prompted a federal investigation into who leaked the secret grand jury testimony.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Ellerman declined comment.

In January 2005, at the same time he was representing BALCO vice president James Valente in the federal steroids case, Ellerman took over as commissioner of the PRCA, the world's oldest and largest rodeo-sanctioning body. Ellerman represented BALCO founder Victor Conte before taking over the PRCA, which has about 9,000 members.

Ellerman faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, perjury and criminal contempt of court, and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for June.

In a move that has angered members of the rodeo community, the PRCA board of directors voted to give Ellerman at least $208,000 as a gesture of goodwill, Gilbert said. Gilbert said Ellerman’s original PRCA contract calls for the commissioner to be paid $208,000 but that Gilbert has been told the actual figure might be $300,000.

A PRCA spokesperson said she had no information about the payment or Ellerman's salary.

The board voted 6-2 in favor of the payment, according to Gilbert, who said he opposed the move.

"My phone's been ringing off the wall all morning with discontent," Gilbert said.

Keith Martin, the chairman of the PRCA board who Gilbert said recused himself from the vote because he will be taking over Ellerman's duties on an interim basis, praised Ellerman.

p> "We appreciate Troy's hard work and dedication to the PRCA during his tenure as PRCA commissioner," Martin said in a news release issued by the PRCA. "Thanks in part to his leadership, the PRCA achieved a multi-million-dollar financial turnaround, and is now strong, stable and in position for solid growth."