Jurors in the federal perjury trial of Barry Bonds in San Francisco heard a tape Wednesday that prosecutors say shows Bonds’ trainer discussing injections of the baseball star as well as undetectable steroids.
The conversation between Greg Anderson, Bonds’ trainer, and Steve Hoskins, his former personal assistant, was secretly recorded by Hoskins at the San Francisco Giants clubhouse in the spring of 2003.
It was played for the jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston as part of the testimony of Hoskins, a prosecution witness.
The tape and Hoskins’ testimony earlier in the day that he heard Bonds discuss using steroids in 1999 have become important prosecution evidence in the trial because Anderson has refused to testify.
Anderson was found in contempt of court by Illston on Tuesday and jailed for the duration of the trial for his refusal to take the stand. The four-week trial began this week.
Bonds, 46, is accused of lying to a federal grand jury in December 2003 when he denied having knowingly received steroids, other performance-enhancing drugs or any kind of injection from Anderson.
The grand jury was investigating illegal sales of steroids and other sports drugs by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
As played in the courtroom, the short tape was indistinct. It had substantial background noise and individual words and sentences were difficult to comprehend.
But a transcript of the tape filed in court by defense lawyers in January indicates that in the first part of the tape, Hoskins refers to “when Barry was taking all those shots.”
Anderson, without mentioning any names or substances, discusses the need to move injections “all over the place” on a person’s body to prevent cysts and infections.
In a second part of the tape, again without mentioning names or a specific substance, Anderson says, “Everything I’ve been doing at this point, it’s all undetectable.”
When Hoskins asks whether it was the same substance that “Marion Jones and them were using,” Anderson answers, “Yeah, same stuff. Same stuff that worked at the Olympics.”
Jurors were given copies of a prosecution version of the transcript to follow while listening to the recording, but they were not allowed to keep the copies, and only the tape and not the transcript was admitted as evidence.
Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella, Hoskins said he made the tape because he wanted to prove to Bonds’ father, Bobby Bonds, that the San Francisco Giants slugger was taking steroids.
When cross-examined by defense attorney Allen Ruby, Hoskins denied having hard feelings against Bonds or making the tape to “use against Barry” after Bonds ended their partnership in a baseball memorabilia business.
“Barry’s a very good friend, a very good person, also one of best baseball players there’s ever going to be, and that is one of the reasons why in 1999 and 2000 I was trying to stop him from taking steroids. I thought it was bad for him,” Hoskins told the jury.
Hoskins was a childhood friend of Bonds and became his assistant, aiding with sports equipment, errands, and later business matters, beginning in 1993.
Bonds ended their partnership in a baseball memorabilia business in 2003 after accusing Hoskins of forging his name and stealing from him.
In earlier testimony today, Hoskins said he learned of the alleged steroid use in a conversation with Bonds and Anderson in 1999.
Hoskins said Bonds instructed him to ask Bonds’ orthopedic surgeon, Arthur Ting, about the effects of the drug.
Bonds’ words were, “Find out what this steroid does and what’s the side effects, and was it good or bad,” Hoskins testified.
Hoskins also said that during spring training in Arizona in 2000, Bonds complained that he was sore from injections.
The conversation was “just that steroids, the shots were making his butt sore,” Hoskins testified.
Hoskins said that during that spring training he saw Bonds and Anderson come out of a bedroom with Anderson holding a syringe, but said he never saw Anderson give an injection.
Beginning in 1999, Bonds became heavier and his shoe size and clothes size changed, Hoskins said.
“His body weight changed. He got heavier and bigger, a lot more muscular,” Hoskins testified.
During cross-examination, Hoskins agreed that he signed a document March 27, 2003, agreeing to stop acting as Bonds’ agent in any kind of business. He acknowledged that he gave Bonds a check for $220,000 in connection with the then-ended business and that he knew that Bonds asked the FBI to investigate the alleged forgery.
That investigation was eventually referred to a federal prosecutor’s office in Portland, which declined to prosecute Hoskins.
Hoskins said he believed he recorded the conversation with Anderson sometime in March 2003 before Bonds formally broke off their business relationship March 27.
When Ruby played an additional portion of the tape and suggested that it showed that recording was made “well into the season” and therefore in April, after Bonds ended their relationship, Hoskins answered, “I don’t know the exact timing.”
Hoskins will continue on the stand when the trial resumes Thursday morning. The next prosecution witnesses will be Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy and former BALCO Vice President James Valente.
Bonds hit Major League Baseball’s single-season record of 73 home runs in 2001 and the all-time career record of 762 in his last season with the Giants in 2007.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News