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
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
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.