Prosecutors want prison time for Barry Bonds

Jurors who found Barry Bonds guilty in April said he was "evasive" in his testimony to a federal grand jury.

Story highlights

  • Bonds should get prison for his "corrupt, intentional effort" to mislead, prosecutors say
  • The probation office report calls for two years probation, a fine and community service
  • Baseball's home run king will be sentenced on December 16 in San Francisco
  • A jury convicted Bonds of obstruction of justice in April
Federal prosecutors want baseball legend Barry Bonds to serve 15 months in prison for his obstruction of justice conviction, according to a sentencing memo filed in court Thursday.
Defense lawyers argued in their filing that the judge should accept the probation office's recommendation that Bonds be sentenced to two years probation, fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.
Bonds, 47, is set to be sentenced on December 16 in a San Francisco federal courtroom, less than two miles from the ballpark where he broke Hank Aaron's major league home run in August 2007.
Jurors who found Bonds guilty in April said he was "evasive" in his testimony to the federal grand jury investigating illegal steroids use by pro athletes.
"Because Bonds's efforts were a corrupt, intentional effort to interfere with that mission, a sentence of 15 months imprisonment is appropriate," the prosecution said in its memo to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.
But jurors, who were deadlocked on three perjury counts, said that it was not proven that Bonds lied when he testified that he had not knowingly used steroids. Prosecutors decided not pursue a retrial.
Prosecutors still argued in the sentencing memo that Bonds' denial that he was "taking steroids and human growth hormone were patently false."
"Whether his purpose was to protect his drug suppliers or his own reputation, Bonds's pre-testimony efforts to sway the testimony of Giants trainer Stan Conte established that he approached his grand jury testimony with a plan," the prosecution said. "That plan was to evade telling the truth to the grand jury through any means possible, whether through lies, half-truths, non-sequiturs, or simply bluffing his way through the testimony."
"Bonds's pervasive efforts to testify falsely, to mislead the grand jury, to dodge questions, and to simply refuse to answer questions in the grand jury makes his conduct worthy of a significant jail sentence," the prosecution argued.
Bonds' testimony in December 2003 was part of the BALCO investigation that targeted employees of a California drug testing laboratory and Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson.
The testimony that led to his conviction came when a grand jury prosecutor asked Bonds if Anderson ever gave him "anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with."
Bonds told the grand jury that only his personal doctors "ever touch me," and he then veered off the subject to say he never talked baseball with Anderson.
A juror, who identified herself only as Jessica and who would not give her last name, told reporters they agreed unanimously that Bonds was "not directly answering the question, just kind of evading the question."
Defense lawyers argued that Bonds' thought the creams and ointments Anderson was giving him were made of flaxseed oils.
In their sentencing memo, the defense urged the judge to accept the probation office's conclusion that Bond's "prior history of good works," including "charitable and civic contributions" should factor into the sentencing.
"It is believed that Mr. Bonds can use his status, as well as his past record of giving to youth-related causes for some beneficial and significant impact to society," the report said.
Also, the conviction "appears to be an aberration when taken in context of his entire life," the probation office report said.
The prosecution rejected the probation office conclusions.
"Bonds's conduct was not a spontaneous act of aberrant behavior, and his charitable works, while laudable, should not allow him to escape responsibility for his criminal conduct," prosecutors wrote. "The conduct in this case was neither aberrant nor insignificant. To the contrary, Bonds's actions were the product of a calculated plan to obfuscate and distract the grand jury from its role in getting to the truth in the Balco inquiry."
Bonds' legal troubles began in 2003 when he was subpoenaed to testify before the federal grand jury investigating the illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to athletes.
Bonds was told he was not a target of the investigation, which was centered on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, known as BALCO. His personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was a target.
"All he had to do was tell the truth," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow said in his closing arguments last week.
Bonds lied to the grand jury because he knew the truth about his steroids use would "tinge his accomplishments" and hurt his baseball career, Nedrow said. "His secret was so powerful that he couldn't admit it, wouldn't admit it."
The grand jury transcript showed that when he was asked about anabolic steroids before the 2003 baseball season, he said he had not knowingly used them. He did acknowledge using substances Anderson gave him known as "the clear and the cream."
Nedrow argued that it was "implausible" that Bonds would take drugs "and really not know what they were."
A urine sample given by Bonds in the summer of 2003, just months before his grand jury testimony, tested positive for anabolic steroids, but another sample taken weeks earlier tested negative for the drugs.
The San Francisco Giants star ended his 21-year major league career in 2007 with 762 home runs. He also set the record for most home runs in a single season in 2001, when he hit 73.