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Barry Bonds' childhood friend says he loaned money to player's mistress after falling-out

March 24, 2011 | 12:28 pm

A key prosecution witness in the Barry Bonds federal trial testified Thursday that he loaned Bonds' former mistress money for a lawyer after they both had a falling-out with the former San Francisco Giant.

Steve Hoskins, a childhood friend whose family was close to Bonds' family, also testified that he and Kimberly Bell, the former mistress who is expected to testify against Bonds, have spoken several times in the last few weeks.

Defense lawyer Allen Ruby has said he would show that key prosecution witnesses had grudges against Bonds and conspired to help prosecutors convict him of lying to a grand jury in 2003. Bonds testified to that grand jury that he had never knowingly used steroids.

Hoskins said he loaned Bell more than $10,000 for an attorney, and that she repaid him when she sold a home. He said he also met with her in his attorney's office several times after September 2003, when the federal government's investigation of steroid distribution in the Bay Area became public.

Hoskins told jurors Wednesday that he recorded Greg Anderson, Bonds' trainer, to get evidence to show Bonds' father that his son was using banned drugs. Hoskins said he wanted the elder Bonds to persuade his son to stop using the drugs.

But Ruby got Hoskins to admit that the elder Bonds was already deathly ill by March 2003, around the time that Hoskins said he made the recording. It implicated Bonds in steroid use. Hoskins testified he never gave the recording to Bobby Bonds, Barry's father, who died in 2003.

Hoskins also admitted that Barry Bonds told him he was going to complain to law enforcement about Hoskins' practices in a sports memorabilia business he had with the baseball star. Bonds severed his association with Hoskins in that business in late March 2003, saying Hoskins had signed his name on contracts without his knowledge.

Hoskins was never charged with wrongdoing as a result of Bonds' accusations to the FBI.

Hoskins testified that Bonds never sued him as a result of their business falling-out, and that Bonds had him arrange the purchase of a $400,000 Bentley for the ballplayer. Hoskins said Bonds had "at least" four cars at the time, including a smaller Bentley.

Bonds seemed visibly more relaxed Thursday, the fourth day of trial. He smiled and chatted with his attorney before the trial resumed at 8:30 a.m. and took notes during testimony.

Bonds bested Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth for most career home runs, but the Giants let him go and no other team offered to hire him after the federal government began its probe. Bonds has not played since 2007, the year he was indicted for lying about steroid use.

-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco