GONZALES — A former Donaldsonville High School strength coach and physical education teacher accused of supplying an unwitting student-athlete with anabolic steroids last year agreed to a plea deal that kept him out of prison.
Curtis Tsuruda, 57, who led the school’s powerlifting team, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of steroids after prosecutors dropped three other counts against him, court minutes say.
Judge Katherine Tess Stromberg, of the 23rd Judicial District, gave Tsuruda a five-year suspended prison sentence with five years’ probation and a $2,500 fine during a March 27 hearing.
Tsuruda, 112 Derek Lane, LaPlace, was sentenced the same day he pleaded guilty. The plea came less than a month before Tsuruda was scheduled for trial.
Laura Gerdes, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, said Thursday that prosecutors considered the other counts against Tsuruda redundant and dropped them.
Gerdes said prosecutors spoke first with the student’s family, the school system and the District Attorney’s Office and all were agreeable to the plea deal.
The District Attorney’s Office had recused itself from Tsuruda’s prosecution due to an undisclosed conflict.
Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Tsuruda on April 1, 2014, after he admitted he gave methandienone pills to a then 16-year-old student-athlete at Donaldsonville High.
Sheriff’s detectives searched Tsuruda’s home in St. John the Baptist Parish and found steroids, deputies said at the time.
Deputies have said Tsuruda told the student the methandienone pills were amino acid/protein pills. The youth’s parents noted mood changes in their child after the student had taken the pills for about a week or two.
The parents sued Tsuruda and the Ascension Parish School Board on Jan. 20 and alleged Tsuruda “duped” the student into taking a regimen of steroids so the coach could regain his status in the coaching community. The suit is pending.
Tsuruda, whose résumé included time at LSU and Tulane University, started with the Ascension public schools in August 2013 and was terminated April 9.
Deputies have said they did not have information Tsuruda gave steroids to other students.
Defense attorney J. Price McNamara could not be reached for comment Thursday.
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