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Slate of charges against Barry Bonds dropped from 11 to 5

By the CNN Wire Staff
Barry Bonds faces four counts of lying to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice.
Barry Bonds faces four counts of lying to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice.
  • The baseball star now faces 4 counts of lying to a grand jury and 1 of obstructing justice
  • The decrease in charges comes after a court ruled potentially key evidence inadmissible
  • Bonds, a 7-time league MVP, is accused to lying to a grand jury about steroid use

(CNN) -- Federal prosecutors have reduced the number of felony charges against baseball's all-time home run champion Barry Bonds from 11 to five, according to a new indictment released Thursday.

Bonds, a seven-time National League most valuable player who hit 762 home runs over his 22-year career, is now indicted on four counts of lying to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The revision marks the third time that prosecutors have filed a new slate of charges against Bonds. In November 2007, a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Bonds on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. He was indicted in May 2008 on a total of 14 counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. A judge later dismissed several of those charges.

On the "false declaration to a grand jury" counts, prosecutors continue to allege that Bonds lied when he said he didn't knowingly take drugs given him by his former trainer, Greg Anderson; that Anderson never injected him with a drug; that Anderson never gave him human growth hormone; and that he never took anything from his trainer other than vitamins.

The other charge claims that Bonds "did corruptly influence, obstruct and impede, and endeavor to corruptly influence, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice by knowingly giving ... evasive, false and misleading" grand jury testimony.

The criminal trial of the former slugger, a 14-time all-star, has been delayed numerous times while assorted legal issues are being worked out.

Last June, Bonds won a big legal victory when the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in a divided opinion, ruled the government cannot use urine samples and other evidence in its perjury case against the former San Francisco Giants star.

That ruling determined that there was no proof that positive steroid tests from 2000 and 2001 were Bonds' and that out-of-court statements from Anderson, his former trainer, are hearsay.

Robert Talbot, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, said then that the ruling essentially torpedoes the prosecution's case, which was heavily dependent on evidence and information from Bonds' former trainer.

The government said it would instead bring BALCO executive James Valente to the stand to testify Anderson told him the samples indeed came from Bonds.

Bonds hit a record-setting 73 homers in the 2001 season. That same year, as well as before and after, the FBI said BALCO Laboratories recorded urine and blood tests, under the name "Barry Bonds," showing "positive" results for steroids and performance-enchancing drugs.

The government alleges BALCO helped supply Bonds with steroids and drug-masking substances. BALCO was accused of covertly marketing tetrahydrogestrinone -- known as "the Clear" -- a then-undetectable performance-enhancing steroid.

Company founder Victor Conte and associates such as Anderson allegedly supplied other top athletes with the Clear and human growth hormone, assuring the competitors they would not be caught cheating. The lab performed repeated tests on athletes, said the government, to check whether the drugs were detectable. Top professional football and track stars were caught up in the scandal, prosecutors say.

Steroid use was banned by Major League Baseball in 2003.