Barry Bonds Seeks Probation

Barry Bonds outside federal court
Barry Bonds

Lawyers for Barry Bonds asked a federal judge to sentence him to a stint in his own home as opposed to jail time for his conviction on obstruction of justice during grand jury testimony about steroids.  Bonds is baseball’s all-time home run leader and a former San Francisco Giant outfielder. 

His lawyer Allen Ruby also said there was no need to have him wear the electric leash, officially known as “location monitoring.”

A federal jury convicted him in April of giving evasive answers to a grand jury in 2003 during its investigation of steroid use and distribution in major league baseball.

Bonds became ensnared in a broad grand jury probe of steroid use in baseball centering on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO)  in Burlingame.

Bonds, 47, was questioned by grand jurors and later he was accused of lying to the grand jury and giving rambling evasive answers to questions. 

During his  trial the jury deadlocked on three more serious charges that Bonds perjured himself in denying he knowingly used steroids.  The U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag announced earlier this year he would not be retried on those charges.

It will be up to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to sentence Bonds on Dec. 16.  The government has not yet submitted its sentencing recommendations.

She has previously sentenced two other sports figures to home detention or probation.  Track coach Trevor Graham received one year of home confinement for lying about supplying performance drugs to athletes.  And cycling champion Tammy Thomas received six months of the same home detention punishment for a conviction of lying about steroids use.  Two others, Dana Stubblefield, a former San Francisco 49er, and track star Marion Jones were also convicted from the same grand jury investigation, but only Jones received jail time.

“Mr. Bonds does not dispute that he was convicted of a serious offense,” wrote Ruby.  But he added that Bonds’ conduct “was less egregious than using intimidation or force to influence testimony, or retaliation against a witness,” which are factors considered in sentencing for an obstruction of justice charge.

Ruby suggested Bonds is entitled to leniency for his “history of prior good works” though the sentencing statement adds that “most of Mr. Bonds’ charitable and civic contributions, financial and otherwise, haven taken place away from the public eye.”

Ruby specifically cited Bonds’ visit to the UC San Francisco Children’s Hospital children’s playroom to visit and encourage sick children.

The court’s probation officer also recommended probation and home detention.   

Bonds’ longtime trainer, Greg Anderson, refused to testify against him.  That won Anderson a year in prison for contempt of court, shielding Bonds from potentially more serious allegations.

Bonds’ conviction for obstruction of justice stems from his non-answer to a question about whether Anderson had ever given him injectable drugs.  During his trial, testimony showed he told grand jurors about his longtime friendship with Anderson but never answered with a yes or no.

 Case:  U.S. v. Bonds,  No. CR07-732SI

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