`Temporary relief' for Bonds

No indictments placed but probe to go on as grand jury's term ends

July 21, 2006|By ALAN ABRAHAMSON AND ERIC BAILEY | ALAN ABRAHAMSON AND ERIC BAILEY,LOS ANGELES TIMES

SAN FRANCISCO -- An investigation into possible perjury and tax-evasion charges against San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds remains very much ongoing, federal prosecutors said yesterday.

No indictments were issued yesterday in the matter despite one grand jury's term ending.

It remains unclear if Bonds - or, perhaps, others - might yet face criminal charges in an investigation tied to the BALCO case, the most far-reaching doping scandal in U.S. sports history.

"We have postponed that decision for another day in light of some recent developments," U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, the chief federal prosecutor in San Francisco, said at a news conference. He said "some unanswered questions remain in this case," declining to elaborate.

A few moments earlier, outside the front of the federal courthouse in San Francisco, Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, said, "This is not a moment of great joy." He also said, "There is at least temporary relief."

Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said: "The whole process has been draining," adding, "We have to see what the future will hold. I was hoping that everything would end today."

But in a telling sign that the matter is indeed far from over, Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was released from custody yesterday morning and was served almost immediately with a subpoena again ordering him to testify next Thursday before a new federal grand jury.

In a complicated sequence of events, Anderson's refusal to testify - before the grand jury whose 18-month term expired yesterday - had landed him back behind bars July 5 at a federal detention center in Dublin, Calif., east of San Francisco. His lawyer, Mark Geragos, said of the new subpoena, "We will fight, obviously."

Bonds, according to Rains, asked the lawyer, "When can I go back to working out with him?" upon hearing that Anderson was - at least for a week - a free man.

The BALCO scandal, which began in 2003, has sparked presidential interest and repeated congressional hearings about the role of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, in particular in baseball. Under congressional scrutiny, Major League Baseball has moved - twice - to toughen penalties for the use of banned substances.

The scandal moved to the courtroom in 2004, when Victor Conte, a self-described nutritionist and founder of BALCO, was indicted.

Conte and Anderson pleaded guilty in July 2005 to steroid distribution and money laundering. Last Oct. 18, Conte was sentenced to four months in prison and four months' home confinement; Anderson received three months in prison, three months' home confinement.

In December 2003, Bonds testified before the BALCO grand jury. According to transcripts later obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds testified that he had never knowingly used steroids.

That grand jury's term expired.

A new grand jury has over the past several months been investigating whether Bonds told the truth in December 2003 - and, as well, whether cash from the sale of Bonds-related baseball memorabilia was properly reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

Alan Abrahamson and Eric Bailey write for the Los Angeles Times. Times staff writer Tim Brown in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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