The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced its decision today to uphold former San Francisco Giants baseball star Barry Bonds’ obstruction-of-justice conviction in connection with his 2003 grand jury testimony about performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds, 48, was convicted in federal court in San Francisco in 2011 of obstructing justice in his 2003 testimony before a grand jury, and the three-judge appeals panel ruled today that the conviction should remain in place.
The former slugger’s testimony had come during an investigation into the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, and its distribution of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
The trial jury found that Bonds had been evasive when responding to a question about whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, had given him anything to inject into himself.
In his grand jury testimony, Bonds admitted to taking substances he identified as coming from Anderson called “the clear” and “the cream.” He said he thought they were flaxseed oil and arthritis ointment, but the substances were later determined to be so-called designer steroids.
Anderson, Bonds’ weight trainer and childhood friend, pleaded guilty in 2005 to charges of conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids to professional athletes and laundering some of the profits. He served a three-month prison sentence.
The appeals court wrote in its ruling today that Bonds’ 2003 response “was evasive, misleading, and capable of influencing the grand jury to minimize the trainer’s role in the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.”
In the allegedly evasive statement, Bonds said he was a “celebrity child” who grew up with his father Bobby Bonds, also a professional baseball player and former Giants star.
The panel consisted of circuit judges Mary Schroeder, Michael Hawkins and Mary Murguia, who upheld the conviction after hearing arguments in February.
At the appeal hearing, Bonds’ attorney Dennis Riordan argued that the conviction should be dismissed because of issues with a 2007 indictment.
Bonds was sentenced to one month of home confinement and 250 hours of community service, but has had the sentence delayed during the appeal process.
The trial jury deadlocked on three other charges that Bonds lied in his answers to other questions during the testimony, and those charges were later dismissed.
Bonds played with the Giants from 1993 to 2007, during which he set the Major League Baseball career home run record with 762 and the single-season record with 73 in 2001.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News