Legal problems of Barry Bonds

The legal problems of Barry Bonds include alleged perjury regarding use of anabolic steroids by former San Francisco Giants outfielder and all-time Major League Baseball home run king Barry Bonds and the related investigations surrounding these accusations.

BALCO scandal

In 2003, Barry Bonds became embroiled in a scandal when Greg Anderson of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), Bonds' trainer since 2000, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes, including a number of baseball players. This led to speculation that Bonds had used performance-enhancing drugs during a time when there was no mandatory testing in Major League Baseball. Bonds declared his innocence, attributing his changed physique and increased power to a strict regimen of bodybuilding, diet and legitimate supplements. During grand jury testimony on December 4, 2003, Bonds said that he used a clear substance and a cream that he received from his personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, who told him they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis. [cite web|url=http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/12/03/MNGGFA0UDU65.DTL|title=What Bonds told BALCO grand jury|date=2004-12-03|accessdate=2007-10-10|publisher=Hearst Communications Inc.|work=San Francisco Chronicle|author=Williams, Lance, Mark Fainaru-Wada] This testimony was released to the "San Francisco Chronicle" by Troy Ellerman, a defense lawyer for Victor Conte. (Ellerman pleaded guilty to disclosing sealed grand jury testimony on February 14,2007). Later reports on Bonds’ leaked grand-jury testimony contend that he admitted to unknowingly using "the clear," a form of the designer steroid THG and "the cream", a concoction designed to mask certain hormone ratios helping the user to beat drug tests. In August 2005, all four defendants in the BALCO steroid scandal trial, including Anderson, struck deals with federal prosecutors that did not require them to reveal names of athletes who may have used banned drugs.

Perjury investigation, 2006–2007

On April 13,2006, CNN reported that federal investigators were looking into whether or not Bonds committed perjury during his 2003 grand jury testimony relating to the BALCO steroids scandal when he testified that he believed a clear substance and a cream, given to him by personal trainer Greg Anderson, were flaxseed oil and arthritis balm. The United States Attorney's Office in San Francisco brought evidence before another grand jury to determine if Bonds should be indicted. Before testifying to the original grand jury (in 2003), witnesses including Bonds were told that they could not be charged with any crime other than perjury based on their testimony. [cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/04/13/bonds.steroid/index.html|title=Sources: Grand jury looking at whether Bonds lied about steroid use|accessdate=2007-10-10|date=2006-04-14|publisher=Cable News Network|author=Rowlands, Ted] On July 5,2006, Anderson was found in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge William Alsup for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating perjury accusations against Bonds. Anderson was denied bail and immediately sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California.

Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos, said he would file an appeal based on his assertion that the subpoena to testify violated Anderson's plea bargain agreement in the BALCO case. [cite web|url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/07/06/MNGGRJQES51.DTL|title=Bonds' Trainer Sent to Prison|accessdate=2007-10-10|date=2006-07-06|publisher=Hearst Communications Inc.|work=Williams, Lance, and Mark Fainaru-Wada|work=San Francisco Chronicle] Later that month, the grand jury investigating the incident retired without issuing an indictment. Anderson was immediately released and promptly subpoenaed to testify before a new grand jury that would take up the case. [cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2524831|title=New grand jury to look at Bonds allegations|accessdate=2007-10-10|date=2006-07-21|publisher=ESPN Internet Ventures|work=ESPN.com] Geragos stated that his client would continue to refuse to testify.

Days later, federal prosecutors obtained Bonds’ medical files as part of their perjury investigation. Bonds’ former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, testified that Bonds blamed an elbow injury on steroid use. According to the "San Francisco Chronicle", prosecutors had subpoenaed the documents nearly two months earlier, but Bonds’ attorneys went to federal court to stop the government from obtaining them. [cite web|url=http://www.ktvu.com/balco/9560397/detail.html|title=Feds Seize Bonds Medical Records|accessdate=2007-10-17|date=2006-07-22|publisher=KTVU]

On August 17,2006, Anderson again refused to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds. Judge Alsup ordered Anderson to return to court August 28 for a contempt hearing. In requesting the hearing, prosecutors for the first time publicly acknowledged they were targeting Bonds. [cite web|url=http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/4125458.html|title=Bonds' trainer won't talk|accessdate=2007-10-17|date=2006-08-17|publisher=Houston Chronicle|work=Chron.com] Anderson was held in contempt of court at the August 28 hearing and sent to federal prison for a second time. Judge Alsup said Anderson had provided no legal justification for refusing to tell the grand jury on August 17 whether he had supplied steroids to Bonds or other athletes, or even whether he knew Bonds. Geragos said he would file an appeal with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. [cite web|url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/08/28/SPG32KQQB73.DTL|title=Anderson ordered back to prison|accessdate=2007-10-17|date=2006-08-28|publisher=Hearst Communications Inc.|work=San Francisco Chronicle|author=Egelko, Bob] Anderson was released from prison on October 5, after serving 37 days. Judge Alsup ordered his release because the federal appeals court hadn't affirmed the contempt order within the required 30 days after Anderson was jailed. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal had sent the contempt order back to Judge Alsup, thus delaying any ruling.

The main contention of Anderson's appeal is that a secret, illegally-recorded tape of him discussing Bonds' steroid use was the basis for the grand jury questions he refused to answer. Prosecutors, however, said the tape was legal and was made in a face-to-face meeting with Anderson. Although Judge Alsup dismissed Anderson's tape claim and others, the 9th Circuit Court sent Anderson's appeal back to the judge, saying Alsup's ruling regarding the tape was not clear enough. In clarifying his order, Alsup said he agreed with prosecutors that there was ample evidence beyond the tape to question Anderson. Prosecutors also said the questions they wanted answered were based on athletes' secret testimony in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case and a search of Anderson's house that turned up drug records, some with Bonds' name on it. Other than the tape dispute, the 9th Circuit Court had rejected the merits of Anderson's appeal. [cite web|url=http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/articles/2006/10/05/judge_orders_barry_bonds_trainer_freed/?p1=MEWell_Pos4|title=Judge orders Barry Bonds' trainer freed|accessdate=2007-10-17|date=2006-10-05|publisher=The New York Times Company|work=boston.com|author=Kravets, David]

In November, after the order was clarified, the 9th Circuit Court agreed to hear Anderson's argument that his "entire grand jury process was tainted" because the government let the grand jury hear the tape. If the appeals court had agreed that the tape unfairly contributed to Anderson's guilty plea, his conviction could have been thrown out, even though Anderson had already completed his three-month sentence. In the disputed tape recording, first reported by the "San Francisco Chronicle", Anderson reportedly told an unidentified person that Bonds was using drugs which could not be detected. Judge Alsup, who had read a transcript of the tape, called it "as worthless a piece of evidence as I've ever seen", according to newspaper reports. [cite web|url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,,20704591-23210,00.html?from=public_rss|accessdate=2007-10-17|date=2006-11-05|title=Conviction may be overturned|publisher=Premier Media Group Pty Ltd.|work=foxsports.com]

On November 16, the 9th Circuit Court rejected Anderson's appeal and ruled that he must return to prison for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds. The court ordered him to report to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin by November 20. The court agreed with Judge Alsup, ruling there was ample evidence beyond the tape to justify the grand jury's interest in questioning Anderson about Bonds. [cite web|url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/11/16/sports/s133959S93.DTL&feed=rss.sports|accessdate=2007-10-17|date=2006-11-16|title=Bonds' trainer ordered jailed again|publisher=Hearst Communications Inc.|work=San Francisco Chronicle|author=Kravets, David and Paul Elias] Anderson's lawyers announced they would seek an appeal before the entire 9th Circuit Court.

In January, 2007, U.S. attorney Kevin V. Ryan resigned and was replaced by Scott Schools. Despite rumors the probe into Bonds would be hampered, the Associated Press reported that by February 2007, the investigation had resumed. The AP quoted Michael Rains, a lawyer for Bonds, as saying "There is absolutely no doubt that the U.S. attorney is still running a grand jury and still taking evidence that involves Bonds. There is still an active effort to indict Barry." [cite web|url=http://cbs.sportsline.com/mlb/story/10119227/rss|title=Former Giants trainer testified about Bonds' arm injury|accessdate=2007-10-17|date=2007-04-10|publisher=CBS Interactive Inc.] The 9th Circuit Court rejected Anderson's appeal in March, and Geragos stated that he intended to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. [cite web|url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/11/17/BAGI3MET131.DTL&feed=rss.bayarea|title=Bonds trainer loses appeal on BALCO testimony: Contempt of court ruling upheld -- he's due back in prison|accessdate=2007-11-03|date=2006-11-17|author=Egelko, Bob] After losing the appeal, Geragos told ESPN "My client is never going to speak...He has got absolutely no intention of talking." [cite web|url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17832927/|title=Ex-Bonds trainer 'is never going to speak'|accessdate=2007-11-03|date=2007-03-29|publisher=MSNBC.com] [cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2813012|title=ESPN:Anderson remains the quiet man|accessdate=2007-11-03|date=2007-03-29|publisher=ESPN Internet Ventures|author=Fish, Mike]

On July 21, the New York Daily News reported that the grand jury investigating Bonds had been extended for six months. According to the "Daily News", the "U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco is confident it will have enough evidence to secure an indictment once [the grand jury] resumes in September." The "Daily News" quoted an anonymous source as saying " [Prosecutors] seem to feel they have a strong case...If the case is 90% now, there's no reason not to go for 100%. They aren't just waiting around for Greg Anderson." [cite web|url=http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/2007/07/21/2007-07-21_jurys_in_on_bonds-7.html?ref=rss|title=Jury's in on Bonds: Feds eye Fall indictment|accessdate=2007-11-03|date=2007-07-21|author=Quinn, T.J.|publisher=NYDailyNews.com]

A month later, Bonds hired two attorneys, John Burris of Oakland and Todd Schneider of San Francisco, to defend him against what he claimed were false public statements made against him, including claims that he took steroids. [Rosynsky, Paul T. [http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/2007/08/16/2007-08-16_bonds_legal_team_might_sue_schilling-2.html Bonds' legal team might sue Schilling] . "New York Daily News", August 16, 2007.] The move was chiefly aimed at Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who made disparaging remarks about Bonds in an HBO interview with sportscaster Bob Costas. [Associated Press, [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2007-07-25-2759473078_x.htm Schilling: Bonds and McGwire lack of denials tantamount to admissions] . "USA Today", July 2, 2007.] Bonds dismissed Schilling's comments and called Costas a "midget" who "knows absolutely jack shit about baseball".

2007 federal indictment

On November 15, 2007, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Bonds. He was charged with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. "During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes," the indictment reads. The charges focus on Bonds' responses to the grand jury in his 2003 testimony, specifically his denials when asked if he had used steroids, and whether Anderson had administered steroids to him.Cite web|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/sports/baseball/15cnd-bonds.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin|title=Barry Bonds Is Indicted for Perjury Tied to Drug Case|accessdate=2007-11-15|publisher=The New York Times|year=2007|author=Michael S. Schmidt] [cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/11/15/bonds.indicted.ap/index.html|title= Home run king Barry Bonds indicted on perjury charge|accessdate=2007-11-05|date=2007-11-15|publisher=CNN.com] [Cite news |last=Elias |first=Paul |title=Barry Bonds indicted on perjury, obstruction charges |url=http://www.sfgate.com/flat/archive/2007/11/15/news/archive/2007/11/15/state/n141013S18.html |publisher="San Francisco Chronicle" |date=2007-11-15 |accessdate=2007-11-15] [http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/bonds_indictment_111507.pdf] The Giants, Major League Baseball and its players' union all expressed sadness at the indictment, and even the White House weighed in, calling it a "sad day in baseball". [cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3112487&POLL314=10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000|title=Barry Bonds indicted on perjury, obstruction charges|publisher=ESPN.com news services|date=November 16, 2007|accessdate=2007-11-16]

Hours after Bonds was indicted, Greg Anderson was ordered released from prison. Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos, denied his client had testified before the grand jury and expressed outrage Anderson had been imprisoned, telling the "New York Daily News", "They kept Greg in prison a year. I read the indictment and there is nothing that the government didn't have a year ago to indict Bonds. My guy was nonessential." Geragos also told the Daily News that Anderson would not testify at trial against Bonds if he is called, adding "They would have to indict him [on civil contempt charges] first." [cite news | url=http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/2007/11/18/2007-11-18_greg_anderson_could_face_more_trouble.html?ref=rss | title=Greg Anderson could face more trouble | publisher=NY Daily News | author=Red, Christian| date=November 18 2007] [cite news | url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/11/16/MN9QTDF69.DTL&feed=rss.sports | title=Greg Anderson released from federal prison | publisher=San Francisco Chronicle | author=Jaxon Van Derbeken,Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writers | date=November 16, 2007] [cite news | url=http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/2007/11/16/2007-11-16_barry_bonds_trainer_greg_anderson_set_fr.html?ref=rss | title=Barry Bonds trainer Greg Anderson set free | publisher=NY Daily News | author=Red, Christian| date=November 16 2007]

Bonds pleaded not guilty on December 7, 2007 and is free on bond while awaiting trial. On January 23, 2008, Bonds filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, asserting that the charges are vague and allege more than one offense in each count, which may violate his constitutional rights. [ [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601079&sid=a9gRWw3ukY38&refer=home Barry Bonds Asks Judge to Dismiss Perjury Charges] Bloomberg.com, Jan. 23, 2008] In a response from the government on February 14, 2008, prosecutors stated that they would present evidence at trial showing that Bonds tested positive for steroids in November 2000. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2008-02-14-bonds-steroid-positive_N.htm Prosecutors say Bonds failed drug test in 2000] USA Today, Feb. 14, 2008] Bonds's trial is so far set to start on March 2, 2009.

References


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