Barry Bonds convicted of obstruction of justice in performance-enhancing-drugs case
After a government prosecution that lasted nearly seven years, a federal jury Wednesday convicted home-run king Barry Bonds on one charge of obstruction of justice for impeding a grand jury investigation into illegal steroid distribution.
The judge in the case declared a mistrial on three remaining counts.
Bonds was charged with four federal felony counts for denying under oath to a grand jury in 2003 that he had knowingly used steroids or human growth hormones and for maintaining that his personal trainer, Greg Anderson, had never injected him.
The probe that ensnared Bonds began with an investigation of a Bay Area laboratory that was selling illegal performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes, and expanded to include athletes who lied to investigators. Bonds, holder of major-league baseball's hallowed record for most home runs, was the probe's highest-profile quarry.
Prosecutors said Bonds lied repeatedly to a grand jury to protect his reputation. Defense attorneys charged the government had a vendetta against Bonds and used lying witnesses to try to convict him.
Authorities first became interested in Bonds in the early 2000s after learning that the San Francisco Giants superstar had appeared in an advertisement for the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which was authorities said was selling designer steroids and other drugs to professional athletes.
Bonds was one of 30 athletes summoned before the grand jury that was investigating the lab. Although given immunity in connection with illegal drug use, Bonds insisted that his trainer told him the two steroids he was taking were flaxseed oil and arthritis cream.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Bonds tested positive for a steroid and a fertility drug in a urine sample taken several months before his grand jury evidence. They also gave the jury a surreptitious recording of Anderson discussing how he injected steroids in response to a question about Bonds.
Anderson refused to testify in the trial and was jailed for its duration. He has spent nearly two years behind bars, mostly because he would not cooperate with the investigation of Bonds.
Jurors heard three key prosecution witnesses: Steve Hoskins, a childhood friend who was close to Bonds for 10 years until the two had a falling-out in early 2003; Kimberly Bell, Bonds' girlfriend of nine years; and Kathy Hoskins, Steve's younger sister, who said she was packing Bonds' clothes for a road trip when she saw Anderson inject the ballplayer.
Prosecutors also presented four former major-league players who testified that Anderson supplied them with drugs that they said they knew were designed to boost performance and escape detection.
Each count against Bonds carried a possible maximum sentence of 10 years, but federal sentencing guidelines recommend 15 to 21 months in prison for a conviction.
-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco
Photo: Barry Bonds enters federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday. Credit: Monica M. Davey / EPA