Bonds sentence delayed pending appeal

A federal judge on Friday spared Barry Bonds from serving time behind bars for his obstruction of justice conviction.

US District Judge Susan Illston sentenced Bonds to two years of probation, 30 days of home confinement and 250 hours of community service for misleading a 2003 grand jury investigating a steroids ring.

Illston also delayed her sentence pending the outcome of Bonds' appeal of the conviction — meaning that Bonds will not begin serving his 30-day home confinement period or two-year probation until his appeal is settled.

Bonds' attorneys estimated the appeal process will take approximately 18 months.

Baseball's all-time home runs leader was found guilty of obstruction of justice in April after a jury determined that he gave misleading testimony before a 2003 grand jury investigating BALCO, a Bay Area laboratory that distributed steroids to top athletes.

Bonds is the 11th person to be convicted in the steroids probe, joining the likes of track star Marion Jones and Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson.

Illston's sentence Friday was an apparent victory for Bonds' defense team, who had specifically asked for a home confinement sentence while prosecutors advocated an incarceration period of 15 months.

Assistant US Attorney Matthew Parrella argued before Illston that home confinement was not a strong enough punishment for a millionaire who lives in a 15,000-square-foot home in Beverly Hills, Calif., but the Bill Clinton-appointee was not swayed.

Bonds, who appeared noticeably thinner since his guilty verdict was read in April, declined a chance to speak on his own behalf in court Friday.

Bonds' legal team said it was optimistic in its appeal.

"We absolutely believe Barry was wrongly convicted of a felony offense," attorney Donald Horgan said. "At the moment he is branded a felon. We intend to fight it on appeal and overturn that judgment so he can return to public life as a citizen free of a criminal conviction."

"I've been doing this before the Ninth Circuit [US Court of Appeals] for 30 years now, and this is certainly as powerful of an appeal that I've ever had," Horgan added.

Illston's sentence also includes a $4,000 fine and prohibits Bonds from owning any firearms.

Bonds did not speak to reporters after the sentencing hearing, and Horgan said Bonds' last words to him were "Merry Christmas," implying that the former San Francisco Giant was at least somewhat satisfied with Friday's outcome.

Bonds, 47, who also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, retired from baseball after the 2007 season with an all-time best 762 career home runs and seven National League MVP awards.

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