Barry Bonds gets 30-day home sentence – at worst

Eight years of being investigated for steroid allegations ended

for home run king Barry Bonds on Friday with a 30-day sentence to

be served at home. No more – and maybe less.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston immediately delayed imposing

the sentence while Bonds appeals his obstruction of justice

conviction. The former baseball star was found guilty in April not

of using steroids, but of misleading grand jurors.

Even without prison time, the case has left its mark on the

seven-time National League MVP. His 762 career home runs, and 73

homers in 2001, may forever be seen as tainted records, and his

ticket to baseball’s Hall of Fame is in doubt.

Bonds declined to speak in court. Well-wishers hugged the

47-year-old in the hallway courtroom after the hearing was over,

and a smattering of fans cheered him as he left the courthouse. It

was a marked departure from his initial court appearance four years

ago, when guards had to clear a path for Bonds to get through

dozens of onlookers to his SUV.

”Whatever he did or didn’t do, we all lie,” said Esther

Picazo, a fan outside the courthouse. ”We all make mistakes. But I

don’t think he should’ve gotten any kind of punishment at


Bonds was sentenced to two years of probation, 250 hours of

community service, a $4,000 fine and 30 days of home confinement.

It will take time to determine whether he serves any of it; his

appellate specialist, Dennis Riordan, estimated it would take

nearly a year and a half for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

to rule.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella called the sentence a

”slap on the wrist” and the fine ”almost laughable” for a

superstar athlete who made more than $192 million for playing


Parrella had sought 15 months in prison and argued that home

confinement wasn’t punishment enough ”for a man with a

15,000-square-foot house with all the advantages.” Bonds lives in

a six-bedroom, 10-bath house with a gym and swimming pool.

”The defendant basically lived a double life for decades before

this,” Parrella said. He ripped Bonds not only over

performance-enhancing drugs but over his personal life: ”He had

mistresses throughout his marriages.”

Parrella said Bonds made lots of money due in part to his use of

performance enhancers and that he has been ”unrepentant” and

”unapologetic” about it.

Illston said none of that had any bearing on Bonds’


She said she agreed with a probation department report that

called Bonds’ conviction an ”aberration” in his life. She said

she received dozens of letters in support of Bonds, some discussing

how he has given money and time ”for decades” to charitable


Bonds is the last – and highest-profile – defendant in the

government’s investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative,

or BALCO, a steroids distribution ring. The ex-slugger has long

denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Illston said she was compelled to give Bonds a sentence similar

to the two she meted out to other figures convicted after trial of

lying to the grand jury and federal investigators about their

connection to steroids.

The case against Bonds after he testified before the grand jury

Dec. 3, 2003. Prosecutors revised his original 2007 indictment

several times and spent a year unsuccessfully appealing a key

evidentiary ruling before jurors deadlocked in April on three of

the four remaining charges related to his grand jury testimony.

On the final charge, the trial jury convicted Bonds of purposely

answering questions about steroids with rambling non sequiturs in

an attempt to mislead the grand jury.

”I think he probably got off a little easy,” said Jessica

Wolfram, one of the jurors who convicted Bonds of obstruction. ”He

was just so clearly guilty, so I actually am happy he got sentenced

to something.”

Wolfram said she researched the case after the trial and viewed

evidence not presented then. After that, she felt even more

comfortable that Bonds was guilty.

Besides Bonds, 10 people were convicted of various charges in

BALCO cases. Six of them, including track star Marion Jones, were

ensnared for lying to grand jurors, federal investigators or the

court. Others, including Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson,

pleaded guilty to steroid distribution charges.

The government’s top BALCO investigator, Jeff Novitzky, declined

to comment outside the courtroom after attending the hearing.

Bonds was one of two former baseball superstars to stand trial

in doping-related cases this year. The trial of pitcher Roger

Clemens was halted after just two days in July because prosecutors

used inadmissible evidence. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has

set a new trial for April 17.

Both men will face a different judgment day in 2013, when

they’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

Associated Press writers Jason Dearen in San Francisco and

Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.