Thursday, November 15, 2007

Barry Bonds indicted on perjury charges

By John McMullen and Greg Wiley
The Phanatic Magazine

Major League Baseball's all-time home run king, Barry Bonds, was indicted Thursday on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California indicate that Bonds was hit with a five-count indictment -- four counts of perjury and one for obstruction of justice -- after one of the longest federal grand jury investigations in Northern California history involving the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO).

The charges against Bonds stem from his December 4, 2003 grand jury testimony when he testified that he did not knowingly take performance enhancing drugs supplied by BALCO and his personal trainer Greg Anderson.

The indictment says that during the investigation evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes.

But, Bonds denied any usage.

"Let me be real clear about this," Bonds was asked in the Grand Jury. "Did he (Anderson) ever give you anything that you knew to be a steroid? Did he ever give you a steroid?"

"I don't think Greg would do anything like that to me and jeopardize our friendship," Bonds answered. "I just don't think he would do that."

If convicted Bonds could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each perjury charge and 10 years and a $250,000 fine for the obstruction of justice charge.

"All you need to know about the government's case is that they leaked an official indictment to every media outlet in America and withheld it from Barry, his lawyer, and everyone else who could read it and defend him," Bonds' attorney Mike Rains said in a statement released on Thursday.

"Now that their biased allegations must finally be presented openly in a court of law, they won't be able to hide their unethical misconduct from the public any longer. You won't read about those facts in this indictment, but now the public will get the whole truth, not just selectively leaked fabrications from anonymous sources. Every American should worry about a Justice Department that doesn't know if waterboarding is torture, and can't tell the difference between prosecution and persecution.

"What we want to know is whether the media will spend as much time repairing Barry’s reputation as they have destroying it after he is proven innocent by a fair and impartial jury."

Others have allegedly testified to the grand jury that Bonds had admitted to using steroids produced by BALCO, including the slugger's former mistress Kimberly Bell and a former childhood friend, Stevie Hoskins.

"I have yet to see the details of this indictment and while everyone in America is considered innocent until proven guilty, I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely," Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "It is important that the facts regarding steroid use in baseball be known, which is why I asked Senator Mitchell to investigate the issue.

"I look forward to receiving his report and findings so that we can openly address any issue associated with past steroid use. We currently have a testing program that is as good as any in professional sports, and the program is working. We continue to fund research to find an efficacious test for HGH and have banned amphetamines from our sport. We will continue to work diligently to eradicate the use of all illegal performance-enhancing substances from the game."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP, eight-time Gold Glove winner, 14-time All-Star and two-time batting champion owns seven single-season major league records, most notably a 73-homer season in 2001 with the Giants.

"This is a very a sad day," the Giants said in a statement. "For many years, Barry Bonds was an important member of our team and is one of the most talented baseball players of his era. These are serious charges. Now that the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter being resolved in a court of law."

Bonds' last years in San Francisco were littered with controversy. In December 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported Bonds used a clear substance and a cream given to him by Anderson during the 2003 baseball season.

Under intense scrutiny in 2007, Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run record with his 756th home run on August 7.

Bonds currently stands at 762 home runs, with a career average of .298 in 22 seasons with Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The 43-year-old has 2,935 hits, 2,227 runs scored (third all-time), 601 doubles, 514 stolen bases and 1,996 RBI (tied for second all-time). He is the lone member of baseball's 500 homer - 500 steal club and also holds the major league record for walks (2,558).

"I was saddened to learn this afternoon of the indictment of Barry Bonds," Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Donald M. Fehr said. " However, we must remember, as the US Attorney stated in his press release today, that an indictment contains only allegations, and in this country every defendant, including Barry Bonds, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until such time as he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Bonds was informed a few weeks ago before the 2007 season ended that the Giants would not bring him back for the 2008 campaign. He is currently a free agent.

Bonds is scheduled to make an initial appearance in front of Judge Maria-Elena James on December 7.

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