After spending close to $75 million dollars on the investigation and prosecution of baseball’s homerun king, the federal government finally got their man when a jury of eight women and four men convicted Barry Bonds of one of the four charges against him. Bonds was facing three counts of making false statements stemming from his testimony to a 2003 grand jury and one obstruction of justice charge. The jury found him guilty of the obstruction charge but was unable to reach a verdict on the more important charges of perjury. Judge Susan Ilston had no other choice but to declare a mistrial on the perjury charges.
The indictment accused Bonds of making false statements to the grand jury about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, claiming that he never knowingly received them from his personal trainer and childhood friend Greg Anderson. Bonds was often linked with two substances known as the “clear” and the “cream.” One jury member said that the final votes were 8-4 to acquit Bonds of lying about steroids, 9-3 to acquit him about lying of HGH use, and 11-1 to convict him of getting an injection from someone other than his doctor.
The jurors heard from 25 witnesses in the prosecution’s case, ranging from Bonds’ ex-mistress, who testified about changes in Bonds’ “body” to an ex-business manager who claimed to have seen someone other than his doctor inject him with steroids. One witness that jurors didn’t hear from was Greg Anderson, Bonds’ long-time personal trainer and childhood friend. Anderson was jailed for the duration of the trial based on his unwillingness to testify for the prosecution. Anderson has spent a total of 436 days in jail for not testifying to the grand jury in 2003 and refusing to testify as a prosecution witness in the latest Bonds’ case. Anderson has been released since the case has somewhat concluded.
Bonds faces up to 10 years in prison on his obstruction conviction. Federal guidelines for someone of Bonds’ criminal record recommend a sentence of 15-21 months. Most legal experts don’t expect Bonds to spend a day in jail since the two other people convicted in the BALCO sting both received home confinement and probation. Bonds’ defense team hopes to convince Judge Ilston to throw out the lone conviction in a status hearing currently scheduled for May 20. Federal prosecutors are also considering whether or not to retry Bonds on the remaining three charges.
So what does this single conviction do to Bonds’ legacy? It’s hard to tell. Most casual observers of baseball believe that the 7-time Major League Baseball MVP Bonds used steroids to achieve the homerun title from Hank Aaron. However, most know that Barry Bonds was one of the best baseball players in the league before the steroid use began.
The government spent so much money and time trying to get Bonds and couldn’t get a conviction on the three charges directly related to steroids. In the end, it was Bonds’ own words that did him in. When Bonds was asked back in 2003 whether or not he received drugs that required a syringe, Bonds gave a non-answer, responding to the jury with “I became a celebrity child with a famous father.” A simple yes or no would have sufficed.
As you (hopefully) filed your federal taxes on Monday, you now know where a portion of your taxes went – helping the federal government meet its prosecutorial burden in this case. $75 million dollars later, and we still don’t know for certain whether Barry Bonds took steroids or not. Thanks for nothing, but I wonder if anyone really cares anymore.