Barry Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson–the man prosecutors hoped would be their star witness in the home-run champion’s perjury trial–told the federal judge presiding over the case in San Francisco today that he will not testify.
Anderson, a boyhood friend of and weight trainer for the former San Francisco Giants outfielder, was brought before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston outside the presence of the jury on the first day of testimony in the trial.
He answered, “No,” when Illston asked, “Will you testify here today?”
Illston then found him in contempt of court and ordered him jailed for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last four weeks.
“I’m hopeful you will change your mind. If you change your mind or want to testify, let everyone know ASAP,” the judge told Anderson shortly before he was taken into custody and led out of her Federal Building courtroom by deputy U.S. marshals.
Bonds is accused of lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 about his alleged receipt of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs from Anderson. The panel was investigating sports drug sales by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
In 2001, Bonds, 46, hit Major League Baseball’s single-season record of 73 home runs and in 2007, he set the all-time career record of 762 in his last season with the Giants.
Bonds faces four counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice in the Dec. 3, 2003, testimony.
The four alleged lies were that he never knowingly received steroids from Anderson; never was injected by him; never knowingly accepted human growth hormone from him; and never took anything other than vitamins from him before the 2003 season.
Prosecutors sought Anderson as a witness not only for questioning related to those statements but also to link three allegedly positive steroids tests from 2000 and 2001 to Bonds.
The federal attorneys claim Anderson took urine samples from Bonds to BALCO in Burlingame for outside testing. But without Anderson’s testimony to authenticate the samples, Illston has ruled that prosecutors cannot use the test results as evidence to support the perjury claim.
Bonds was originally scheduled to go on trial in 2009, but the case was delayed for two years while prosecutors unsuccessfully appealed Illston’s ruling.
Anderson told Illston earlier this month that he would decline to take the stand and also previously spent more than a year in prison in 2006 and 2007 for refusing to testify before a grand jury probing Bonds’ alleged lies.
But his refusal to testify at the trial was not official until he appeared in court after the proceeding actually began.
Anderson’s attorney, Mark Geragos, argued that jailing Anderson would be “punitive rather than coercive” at this point, and said he will appeal the custody order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In papers filed with Illston today, Geragos contended that when Anderson accepted a plea deal in a BALCO case in 2005, prosecutors agreed with the trainer’s then-attorney, Tony Serra, that Anderson would not have to testify in any further BALCO prosecutions.
Prosecutors argued in an opposition brief filed later today that the written plea agreement makes no such promise.
Anderson was one of the first four people indicted in the BALCO probe in 2004. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids to unnamed professional athletes and laundering some of the profits, and he served a sentence of three months in prison and three months in home confinement in 2005 and 2006.
Later indictments, ending with the charges filed against Bonds on Nov. 15, 2007, brought the number of people accused in BALCO-related cases to 11. All the others have pleaded guilty or been convicted of either drug distribution or lying to authorities.
Without Anderson’s testimony, prosecutors plan to use a mosaic of other evidence to try to prove the perjury claim.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella told the jury during his opening statement at the start of the day that prosecutors will offer a combination of eyewitness testimony showing that Bonds knew his statements were false and circumstantial evidence showing that he experienced the side effects of the steroids.
There will be “testimony from people who knew him for decades that the defendant knew what he was doing,” Parrella said.
Those witnesses will include Bonds’ former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, who is slated to testify about changes in Bonds’ body; Bonds’ former business manager and childhood friend, Steve Hoskins; and Hoskins’ sister Kathy, a personal shopper who allegedly saw Anderson give Bonds an injection, the prosecutor said.
Parrella told the trial jurors that Bonds could easily have told the grand jury the truth, since he was given immunity from being prosecuted for anything he said.
“All he had to do was tell the truth. That’s all. But he couldn’t do it,” Parrella said.
Lead defense attorney Allen Ruby countered in his opening statement that Bonds did tell the truth and said that will be shown by the transcript of the two-hour testimony.
“Barry answered every question, he told the truth, he did his best, and most importantly, he gave the grand jury useful information,” Ruby said.
The defense attorney said when Bonds broke off his relationships with Bell and the Hoskins siblings in 2003, “the bitterness of these people towards Barry … was very pervasive, very strong.”
“The evidence will show that what they tried to do is create a caricature of Barry Bonds as all bad, mean,” Ruby told the jury.
After Anderson was led away, the first prosecution witness was former U.S. Internal Revenue Service agent Jeff Novitzky, now a Food and Drug Administration agent, who was the lead investigator in the original BALCO probe and co-lead investigator in the Bonds prosecution.
Novitzky, who has testified in two previous BALCO trials, testified how the BALCO probe began in 2002 with an investigation of money laundering and weekly midnight “trash runs” to search the company’s waste.
Novitzky was being cross-examined by Ruby when the trial recessed for the day. After the agent completes his testimony on Wednesday, the next witness will be Steve Hoskins.
Prosecutors hope to use Hoskins’ testimony to present a tape of a conversation with Anderson that he secretly recorded at the Giants clubhouse in 2003. They allege the tape shows Anderson referring to having given Bonds injections and to using an “undetectable” material that “worked at the Olympics.”
Illston has ruled that prosecutors can play the tape to the jury only if they first prove that the substances mentioned by Anderson were illegal at the time periods referred to by the trainer.
When Anderson’s name came up during Novitzky’s testimony, Illston instructed the jury that “Greg Anderson is unavailable to testify during this trial. You may not speculate as to cause of unavailability.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News