Barry Bonds Sentenced To 2 Years Probation In Obstruction Case
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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Home run champion Barry Bonds was spared a prison sentence Friday as a federal judge in San Francisco sentenced him to 30 days of home confinement and two years of probation for obstructing a grand jury probe of steroids distribution.
Bonds, 47, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to provide 250 hours of community service and pay a $4,000 fine.
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At the request of defense attorneys, Illston agreed to delay the commencement of the sentence while the former San Francisco Giants outfielder appeals his conviction.
The appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could take a year or more.
Bonds declined to address the court before he was sentenced.
He was convicted by a trial jury in Illston’s court in April of one count of obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony to a federal grand jury on Dec. 4, 2003.
The panel was investigating the sale of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
The trial jury concluded Bonds was evasive in 2003 when he gave a rambling answer to a question about whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever given him anything that required a syringe to inject himself with.
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Bonds described himself in that answer as the “celebrity child” of a baseball player father and said, “I just don’t get into other people’s business.”
The jury deadlocked on three other charges that Bonds lied to the panel when he said he had never knowingly used steroids or human growth hormone and had never been injected by Anderson. Prosecutors later dismissed those counts.
Illston said Friday the sentencing “should not be about steroid use” and said she was considering only the obstruction conviction.
She said she decided on the sentence because of his lack of a criminal record, his long history of charitable contributions and similar non-custodial sentences she had given to other sports figures convicted of perjury or obstruction in the BALCO probe.
The sentence had been recommended by the court’s probation department in a presentencing report.
The report is confidential, but Illston said it described years of charitable contributions quietly made by Bonds.
“The thing that was striking to me was that most of that was out of the public eye,” she said.
Prosecutors sought a penalty of one year and three months in prison, while Bonds’ defense team had asked for probation and community service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella argued that a non-prison sentence would be “a slap on the wrist” and said Bonds was “unapologetic and unrepentant.”
He unsuccessfully urged Illston to consider Bonds’ alleged “years of performance-enhancing drug use, steroid use, lying about it in the media and to other people.
“He made an awful lot of money,” Parrella said.
While playing for the Giants, Bonds set Major League Baseball’s records for single-season and career home runs.
He has steadfastly denied knowingly having taken steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
He told the grand jury that he had taken substances known as “the clear” and “the cream” from Anderson, but said he thought they were flaxseed oil and arthritis ointment.
The substances were later identified as so-called designer steroids that had been engineered to be undetectable.
Bonds is one of 11 people who were accused of either illegally distributing drugs or lying in connection with the BALCO probe. The others all pleaded guilty or were convicted of various charges. He is the last to be sentenced.
Jack Gillund, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, said, “We have no comment” on the sentencing.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)