SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — One of the key figures in the professional baseball steroid scandal sat down with CBS13 to explain why he leaked explosive information about major league drug use, an action that landed him in prison.

Sacramento resident Troy Ellerman says a “bad combination” of ego, passion and arrogance led him to blow the lid off one of the biggest scandals to rock Major League Baseball by sending some of the federal grand jury testimony of some of baseball’s biggest stars to reporters in 2004.

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That same testimony is now the center of Bonds’ perjury trial, which finally began this week.

Ellerman was working as a defense attorney at the time for the maker of the steroids, BALCO founder Victor Conte. The decision to leak the testimony came when federal authorities went after his client but let dozens of star athletes off the hook.

“They got a free pass,” Ellerman said. “Obviously I had no idea about what kind of case I was going to get involved in.”

He hoped to stir a national debate about the use of steroids in professional sports, but ended up paying a heavy price.

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Ellerman’s actions were revealed by a former employee, leading to the loss of his license to practice law and a prison sentence for a felony.

“I broke the rule. I paid for that. The judge was absolutely right,” he said. Surviving prison was hard and the experience tore his life apart.

Despite the pain he endured, he said he would probably take the same course if he could do it again.

“Knowing how arrogant and egotistical and brash and passionate I was? I’d have to say yes,” Ellerman said.

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A book Ellerman wrote about his experience during the scandal is expected to be released next month.