Prosecutors Extend Bonds Investigation
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ With Barry Bonds still firmly in the sights of a federal steroid investigation, prosecutors will impanel a new grand jury to take up where an outgoing one left off Thursday and consider perjury and tax-evasion charges against the star slugger.
``We are not finished,″ U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said. ``We have postponed the decision (to indict) for another day in light of some recent developments.″
Word that an indictment wasn’t imminent came as one grand jury’s term expired, and the lawyer for Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson, said his client already had been subpoenaed to testify next Thursday before the new grand jury.
The new panel will further investigate whether Bonds lied under oath when he said he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs, attorney Mark Geragos said.
Geragos said Anderson will again refuse to testify.
``They don’t even have enough to indict a ham sandwich, much less Barry Bonds,″ said the slugger’s lawyer, Michael Rains. But he seemed to back away slightly from Bonds’ earlier statements that he didn’t know the substances given to him by Anderson were steroids.
``He was suspicious in light of what he had read as to whether those were steroids or not,″ Rains told reporters outside the federal courthouse here.
Bonds arrived at AT&T Park with his 16-year-old batboy son. As reporters moved toward his locker, team spokesman Blake Rhodes said Bonds would have no comment.
Major League Baseball declined to comment.
Anderson, a key witness, was freed at midday from the federal prison where he was sent more than two weeks ago for refusing to testify against his childhood friend.
``They can subpoena him every day for the rest of this year, and it doesn’t matter,″ Geragos said. ``He’s not going to talk.″
The judge who ordered Anderson to prison on July 5 said he would be held until he agreed to testify against Bonds or the grand jury’s term expired.
Joseph Russienello, the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco from 1982 to 1990, said handing the case off to a new grand jury means the federal government can lock Anderson up for the length of the new grand jury’s term, which could extend beyond a year. The threat of a lengthy jail term can convince even the most intransigent witnesses to cave.
``It’s no longer a two-week vacation,″ Russienello said. ``Twelve months usually has a way of getting people sensitized to giving truthful testimony.″
Speculation has been mounting for weeks that Bonds, one of the biggest names in professional sports, would be indicted Thursday with the grand jury expiring. His lawyers had said they were preparing a defense.
But soon after the grand jury reported to the federal courthouse to begin the final day of its probe, the U.S. Attorney’s office issued a statement saying it ``is not seeking an indictment (Thursday) in connection with the ongoing steroids-related investigation.″
``There’s temporary relief in the news we heard today,″ Rains said. The lawyer said Bonds was elated when he heard of Anderson’s release and asked when the two can start working out together again.
``He’s hoping this is the end of it,″ Rains said, ``but he doesn’t know that, nor do I.″
Anderson appears to be the key to whether perjury charges could stick against Bonds, and prosecutors referred to his refusal to testify.
``We will continue to move forward actively in this investigation _ including continuing to seek the truthful testimony of witnesses whose testimony the grand jury is entitled to hear,″ said Luke Macaulay, a spokesman for Ryan, the U.S. attorney.
Bonds testified in 2003 that he thought substances given to him by Anderson were arthritis balm and flaxseed oil. Authorities suspected Bonds was lying and that those items were ``the clear″ and ``the cream″ _ two performance-enhancing drugs tied to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the lab exposed as a steroids supplier to top athletes in baseball, track and other sports.
Although Bonds was promised immunity as long as he told the truth, doubts soon surfaced.
_ His former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, testified the slugger told her he had used steroids, according to Bell’s lawyer. Bonds’ attorney accused Bell of trying to extort money from Bonds and using the platform to promote a book that never was published.
_ IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, lead investigator in the steroids probe, said in court filings that BALCO founder Victor Conte told him Bonds used ``the clear″ on a regular basis.
_ Federal agents who raided Anderson’s house seized doping calendars, price lists and other documents pointing to Bonds’ use of steroids and human growth hormone. Federal prosecutors say they need Anderson, in part, to interpret the calendars, which seem to spell out Bonds’ schedule for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Anderson was one of four men convicted in the BALCO scandal. He was sentenced to three months behind bars and three months of home confinement in October after pleading guilty to money laundering and steroid distribution.
He was called to testify before the perjury grand jury and refused. A federal judge found him in contempt of court and ordered him jailed.
Geragos protested, saying Anderson was the victim of an illegal government wiretap and that because Anderson’s refusal to cooperate with government investigators is noted in his earlier plea argument, he cannot be forced to testify.
``He took three months in jail rather than cooperate,″ Geragos said.
He also says Anderson can’t trust that his testimony will be kept confidential because other BALCO grand jury testimony has been leaked to the press. Excerpts of testimony by Bonds and other key players in the case was published by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Geragos said he plans to repeat the same arguments.
Allegations of steroid use long have plagued Bonds, who passed Babe Ruth in May to become second only to Hank Aaron on the career home run list. They intensified in late 2003, when he testified before the original BALCO grand jury, which took testimony from about two dozen athletes.
Without Anderson’s help, prosecutors still could indict Bonds on charges alleging he failed to pay taxes on money made through sales of autographs and other memorabilia. There is also the possibility Bonds could be indicted on perjury charges without Anderson’s testimony.
``There comes a point in time ... where everybody needs to move on,″ Rains said. ``We hope we have arrived at that point today.″
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles and AP Writers Marcus Wohlsen and Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.