Former Giants hitting star Barry Bonds lost his criminal appeal Friday. A federal appeals court upheld his conviction of obstruction of justice for evasive testimony to a grand jury investigating illegal distribution of steroids by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Coperative (BALCO.)
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held his answers were “evasive, misleading and capable of influence the grand jury to minimize” the role of Bond’s trainer suspected of distributing performance enhancing drugs.
Bonds’ rambling answers about being a “celebrity child” to grand jurors questions about trainer Greg Anderson’s distribution of steroids could be the basis of a conviction, the court held.
“Bonds claims that he could not have been convicted of obstructing the grand jury’s investigation with an answer that was misleading or evasive, no matter how far removed that answer was from the question asked, unless the answer was false,” Judge Mary Schroeder wrote. “According to Bonds, because his response…that he was a ‘celebrity child’ was factually true, his conviction should be reversed. The problem is that while Bonds was a celebrity child, that fact was unrelated to the question, which asked whether Anderson provided Bonds with any self-injectable substances,” she said.
“When factually true statements are misleading or evasive, they can prevent the grand jury from obtaining truthful and responsive answers,” she wrote.
Bonds was sentenced on Dec. 16, 2011, to spend 30 days in his Beverly Hills mansion and perform 250 hours of community service for his conviction on a single charge of obstruction of justice for his dodgy answers to federal grand jury questions about the BALCO lab that provided a number of athletes with performance enhancing drugs.
Jurors could not agree on perjury charges against Bonds.
Bonds hit 762 home runs during his career, topping Hank Aaron’s 755, but it remains to be seen whether American sports writers will put Bonds in the Hall of Fame with the conviction hanging over him. That’s what makes his appeal important.
Bonds became ensnared in a broad grand jury probe of illegal distribution of steroids and money laundering by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) in Burlingame.
Two men associated with BALCO were Victor Conte, president of BALCO, and Anderson, Bonds’ childhood friend and personal trainer. Conte, Anderson and two other defendants were ultimately charged and later pleaded guilty to drug distribution.
Bonds was questioned by grand jurors and later he was accused of lying to the grand jury and giving rambling evasive answers to questions that obstructed the grand jury’s work.
Judges Michael Daly Hawkins and Mary Murguia joined Schroeder.
Case: U.S. v. Bonds, No. 11-10669