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Prosecutors seek prison time for Barry Bonds

U.S. District Court

Federal prosecutors want former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds to serve 15 months in prison for obstructing their probe into the BALCO steroids scandal.

In documents filed late yesterday, the legal team that prosecuted baseball’s home run king urged Judge Susan Illston to reject the recommendation of a probation officer who said Bonds should be sentenced only to community service.

After a three-week trial in April, the retired baseball star was convicted of obstruction of justice for giving evasive answers to a grand jury that was probing steroid dealing at the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative in Burlingame. The jury deadlocked on charges that Bonds lied under oath when he denied that he used steroids and other banned drugs. Sentencing is set for next Friday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

In their filing, the prosecutors said Bonds’ offense was too serious to merit what the probation officer suggested – probation with community service.

When Bonds testified before the BALCO grand jury in 2003, he intended to “obfuscate and distract the grand jury from its role in getting to the truth,” they wrote.

“His answers that he did not know he was taking steroids and human growth hormone were patently false, and the United States’ allegation that he lied when he said he had not been injected by anyone other than a doctor was proven at trial through the testimony of Kathy Hoskins.”

At the trial, Hoskins, Bonds’ former personal shopper, said she saw Greg Anderson, Bonds’ weight trainer and a confessed steroid dealer, inject the baseball star in the navel. The jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of convicting Bonds of perjury for that testimony.

In their pleading, the government acknowledged that the judge had granted probation to three other sports figures for lying about steroids in the BALCO case: bicycle racer Tammy Thomas, elite track coach Trevor Graham and former NFL lineman Dana Stubblefield.

But the government argued that Bonds’ conduct was more serious, and his case more similar to two other BALCO defendants: Olympic star Marion Jones, who was sentenced to six months in prison for lying about her use of banned drugs and her participation in an unrelated check forgery scheme, and defense lawyer Troy Ellerman, who confessed to providing San Francisco Chronicle reporters with sealed grand jury testimony that became the basis for news stories. Ellerman was sentenced to 30 months in prison, the most meted out to any defendant in the BALCO case.

Like Jones and Ellerman, Bonds should go to prison, the prosecutors argued.

“Bonds’ efforts were a corrupt, intentional effort to interfere” with the BALCO probe, they wrote, and should be punished with 15 months in prison.

Bonds holds baseball’s single-season and career records for home runs. He was indicted after the 2007 season and hasn’t played since.

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