barry-bonds.jpgLess than six weeks before the long-delayed perjury trial of former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, federal prosecutors today pared down the number of charges from 11 to five.

Bonds, 46, now faces four counts of lying and one count of obstructing justice in 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury that was investigating the distribution of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

He is due to go on trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco on March 21.

The revised charges issued by a federal grand jury this afternoon are the fourth version of an indictment originally obtained by prosecutors in 2007.

In the last version, the home-run champion was accused of 10 counts of lying and one count of obstructing justice.

The latest allegations are simplified but similar to those lodged before.

Bonds continues to be accused of lying when he allegedly told the grand jury he never knowingly received steroids or human growth hormone from his trainer, Greg Anderson; never was injected by him; and “never took anything” except vitamins from him before 2003.

Illston is scheduled to hold a hearing Friday on pretrial motions.

The 2003 grand jury was looking into the distribution of sports drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Bonds is one of 11 people–including other sports figures, BALCO officials and a chemist–who were indicted on charges of either drug distribution or lying in connection with the probe. The others either pleaded guilty or went to trial and were found guilty of various charges.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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