Prosecutors asked a federal judge in San Francisco today to sentence home-run champion Barry Bonds to one year and three months in prison for obstructing justice in grand jury testimony eight years ago.
Bonds, 47, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on Dec. 16 for obstructing justice when he testified in 2003 before a grand jury investigating the distribution of steroids by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
The obstruction charge was the only count on which a jury in Illston’s court convicted the former San Francisco Giants slugger in April. The trial jury concluded he answered evasively when asked in 2003 whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him anything to inject himself with.
The jury deadlocked on three other counts that charged Bonds lied when he said he never knowingly took steroids or human growth hormone and was never injected by Anderson. Prosecutors later dropped those charges.
In a sentencing brief filed with Illston late today, the prosecutors disputed defense attorneys’ request for a penalty of probation and community service, with no jail time.
“Bonds’ actions were the product of a calculated plan to obfuscate and distract the grand jury from its role in getting to the truth in the BALCO inquiry,” the federal attorneys wrote.
“Bonds’ pervasive efforts to testify falsely, to mislead the grand jury, to dodge questions and to simply refuse to answer questions in the grand jury makes his conduct worthy of a significant jail sentence,” the prosecutors argued.
The maximum possible sentence for the obstruction conviction is 10 years in prison, but the suggested sentence under advisory federal guidelines would be between 15 and 21 months in custody.
Probation officials in a presentencing report, which is also advisory, recommended a non-prison sentence of two years of probation and 250 hours of community service.
Bonds is one of 11 people who were indicted in connection with the BALCO probe on charges of either of illegally distributing drugs or lying or obstructing justice during the investigation. All pleaded guilty or were convicted of various charges.
Three other sports figures who were convicted of lying were sentenced by Illston to probation or a combination of probation and home confinement, while a fourth, track star Marion Jones, was sentenced by a judge in New York to six months in prison.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News