Lawyers for home-run champion Barry Bonds renewed their bid to a federal judge today for a sentence of probation, arguing that a government request for prison time is “unfair and unwarranted.”
Bonds, 47, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston Friday for obstructing justice in 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating steroids distribution by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
He was convicted of that charge by a jury in Illston’s court in April. The jury deadlocked on three other charges that he lied during the testimony, and prosecutors later dropped those counts.
Last week, the former San Francisco Giants outfielder filed papers asking for a sentence of probation and community service, while prosecutors asked for one year and three months in prison.
In a response filed today, Bonds’ lawyers challenged prosecutors’ statement in their sentencing brief that the trial evidence showed he “knowingly made numerous material false statements” to the grand jury.
The defense lawyers argued that since Bonds wasn’t convicted of false statements, it would be unfair to make that allegation a factor in his sentence.
“We believe the offense of which Mr. Bonds was convicted is not interchangeable with the offenses of which he was not convicted,” the attorneys wrote.
The defense attorneys claim Bonds’ sentence should be comparable to those of three other sports figures–track coach Trevor Graham, cyclist Tammy Thomas and football player Dana Stubblefield–who were convicted or pleaded guilty of lying or obstructing justice in the BALCO probe.
All were sentenced by Illston to probation or a combination of probation and home confinement.
Prosecutors contend Bonds should be compared with track star Marion Jones, who was sentenced by a federal judge in New York for lying in both the BALCO investigation and a separate probe of a check-cashing scheme.
In Bonds’ obstruction-of-justice conviction, the trial jury concluded he answered evasively when asked in 2003 whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him anything to inject himself with.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News