Eight years of being investigated over steroid allegations ended for baseball’s 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 star was found guilty in April not of using steroids, but of misleading grand jurors…
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. Full story
Update 4:15 p.m. Nina Thorsen reports on the small contingent of Bonds fans that had gathered outside the courthouse:
Several Giants fans had waited outside the courthouse while the sentencing hearing went on in a courtroom on the 19th floor. They chanted “Bar-ry! Bar-ry!” when Bonds came out of the courthouse, but he got into a waiting car without speaking to them or the dozens of reporters on the sidewalk.
Esther Picazo, who describes herself as a lifelong San Franciscan and a Giants fan, said she was glad Bonds avoided jail time but that even probation was too harsh.
“There’s a girl that texts and hit a little girl, she only got a year probation. And she’s out because of overcrowding. Then Lindsay Lohan, DUIs. There’s child molesters. I don’t think Barry Bonds should have got anything at all.” Another fan had brought a baseball bat he hoped the slugger would sign for him.
Speaking of bats, during the sentencing, as the judge read out the standard conditions for probation that included a prohibition on posssession of weapons, one of Bonds’ attorneys asked the judge to stipulate that “weapons” for purposes of this particular parolee would not include baseball bats.
The judge so stipulated.
Here’s Bonds supporter Esther Picazo today:
Update 1:05 p.m. Most interesting tweet, in my opinion, from our coverage today:
Prosecutor: "the defendant basically lived a double life for decades." & had mistresses. Judge interrupts: not the issue here. #BarryBonds
— KQED News Live (@KQEDNewsLive) December 16, 2011
Here’s the whole story from AP:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Eight years of being investigated over steroid allegations ended for baseball’s 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 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 all.”
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 baseball.
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’ sentencing.
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 causes.
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.
Barry Bonds is baseball’s all-time leader in walks, and he was looking for one more in his trial for perjury concerning his 2003 testimony to a federal grand jury investigating the BALCO steroids scandal. He didn’t quite get it: The jury found him guilty on one count of obstructing justice. (You can read his testimony for yourself right here (pdf).)
Still, he might wind up safe at home — many legal analysts think he will receive home detention from U.S. District Judge Susan Illston. A prison term, however, is a possibility; prosecutors have asked for a sentence of about 15 months.
Lance Williams — who along with Mark Fainaru-Wada blew the BALCO story wide open in coverage for the San Francisco Chronicle and later in the book Game of Shadows, talked about the case with KQED’s Nina Thorsen yesterday and had this to say about the sentencing:
“I think he stands a slight chance of actually doing prison time, given the way the judge has sentenced other athletes. And I think it won’t matter to him, I think the reputational damage has been done. Before all this, he was headed to baseball’s hall of fame, he was a great player.
Talking about his original coverage of the story, Williams said, “I must say I had no idea when I went into this story the prevalence of steroids, growth hormone, et cetera, in elite sports. It was just as shocking to me as it was to the ordinary fan…The reason we follow sports, I think, it brings out the kid in us, and the naive beliefs in achievements and stardom and overcoming obstacles, You really do want to believe that that’s done on the natural. And it is discouraging to find out it’s another way, but that’s the world we’re in now, and there’s really no turning back to that innocent consciousness level we had before.”
Both Williams and KQED’s Nina Thorsen — are tweeting live from the courtroom. Click on the play button below to activate their Twitter streams…
- Video: Interview with Lance Williams, March 2011 (News Fix)
- The Barry Bonds Dilemma(News Fix, Oct 2010)
- “Barry Bonds will be remembered as…” (News Fix)