barry-bonds.jpgRelated: Merry Christmas Mr. Bonds: Barry To Get His Sentence December 16

Federal prosecutors announced in San Francisco today that they are dropping three perjury counts against home-run champion Barry Bonds, at least for the time being.

A jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco deadlocked on those three counts in April after a three-week trial.

Prosecutors could have retried the former San Francisco Giants slugger on those charges, but U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed a one-sentence notice of dismissal of the three counts with Illston today.

Bonds, 47, was convicted of a fourth count of obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony in 2003 to a federal grand jury that was investigating the distribution of steroids to professional athletes.

He is due to be sentenced by Illston on that charge on Dec. 16.

The three perjury counts were charges that Bonds lied to the grand jury when he testified he never received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson, and had never knowingly taken steroids or human growth hormone.

Haag said in today’s filing that prosecutors were dismissing the three charges “without prejudice.” That phrase normally means that a case could be refiled, but it was not clear what it would mean in the context of Bonds’ prosecution, in which Speedy Trial Act requirements might apply.

Defense attorneys Allen Ruby and Dennis Riordan declined to comment on the filing.
“We’re going to focus on what’s on the calendar,” said Ruby, referring to the Dec. 16 sentencing.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office was not available for comment.

Earlier today, Illston scheduled a status conference on Bonds’ case for Friday, and prosecutors’ intentions for three dismissed counts may be made clearer at that session.

Bonds can appeal the obstruction-of-justice conviction, but not until after receiving a final judgment and being sentenced.

Bonds set Major League Baseball’s career home run record in his last season with the Giants in 2007.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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