Posted by Edmond Geary | Posted in Celebrity crimes, Drug charges, Drug distribution, Drug trafficking | Posted on 27-05-2011
After an 8-year investigation, a 12-day trial with more than two dozen prosecution witnesses presented and finally 4 days of jury deliberation, the United States government finally obtained a conviction of Barry Bonds, but just barely. The jury convicted Bonds of Obstruction of Justice but could not reach a verdict on the other three counts tried. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on those counts on which the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. Whether the government will take those counts to another jury has not been announced.
The Department of Justice investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) illegal, trafficking in steroids led to Bonds’ indictment in 2007. During that investigation, Bonds appeared before the grand jury in 2003, and he was acdcused of lying to them in his testimony. Bonds testified to the grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. He admitted having taken steroids but said Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, had told him they were flaxseed and arthritis cream.
Bonds did not testify on his own behalf or present any other witnesses at this trial. Observers speculated indicated Bonds’ criminal defense lawyers’ this indicated confidence in the weakness of the government’s case, but such a decision can be made for other reasons. That is the kind of intuitive judgment call lawyers have to make in the flow of the trial, and one which can sometimes be critical.
Bonds’s indictment came in 2007, 50 days after he made his last appearance in the batter’s box and 100 days after Bonds bettered Hank Aaron’ 755 career home run record with 762 home runs as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants. Bonds had already set the Major League Baseball season record when he hit 73 home runs in 2001.
Whether Bonds will serve any prison time is doubtful, assuming the conviction withstands appeal, in light of how this judge has sentenced others from this investigation. Judge Illston sentenced Greg Anderson in 2005 to 3 months in prison and 3 months home detention upon his plea of guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of distribution of steroids. He was then jailed for about a month until the conclusion of the trial for contempt of court, namely for his refusal to obey the judge’s order to testify against his life-long friend, Barry Bonds. Regardless, whether Bonds does time, his chances of ever reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame took a serious hit, regardless of his records, including winning the Most Valuable Player award for an unprecedented seven times.
The investigation hit the headlines when I.R.S. agents raided BALCO and Greg Anderson’s condominium in 2003. They seized evidence of what agents claimed showed conspiracy to distribute designer steroids that were undetectable even in the latest drug tests. As time went, 4 sports figures, including Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, and 6 steroid dealers were convicted. Major League Baseball hired retired U.S. Senator George Mitchell to investigate, and his report identified 86 ball players who were users of outlawed drugs.
Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent who started the investigation of BALCO, wanted the BALCO probe to be widened, but the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last year that the urine samples and records seized in 2004 of 104 baseball players were seized illegally. Novitzky was also instrumental in the developing the government’s case against Roger Clemens, the record-setting baseball pitcher who is scheduled for jury trial for lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs and for investigating pro cyclists, including Lance Armstrong.