SAN FRANCISCO – Homerun king Barry Bonds may be confined to his Beverly Hills home, imprisoned for 15 months or simply placed on probation after he is sentenced Friday for giving evasive testimony to a federal grand jury probing sports doping.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who presided over Bonds’ perjury trial earlier this year, has sentenced other athletes convicted of lying during the probe to probation and home confinement. Distributors of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs served three to four months in prison for those crimes.
Bonds, 47, baseball’s all-time home run-record holder, was tried for lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 that was investigating a Bay Area laboratory involved in the sale of banned substances to athletes. A jury last April deadlocked on all charges except one – a felony obstruction of justice count for being evasive.
Federal sentencing guidelines recommend 15 to 21 months in prison for obstruction, but probation officials have said Bonds’ offense warrants much less: two years probation, a $4,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and “location monitoring,” which generally means home confinement.
Probation officials cited Bonds’ long history of charitable and civic works – works that Bonds’ attorneys said he kept private even though they would have enhanced his reputation.
Prosecutors counter that Bonds has suffered little from his misconduct and shown no remorse. They have urged Illston to put the former San Francisco Giant star in prison for 15 months for his “pervasive efforts to testify falsely, to mislead the grand jury, to dodge questions, and to simply refuse to answer questions in the grand jury.”
“The defendant has not clearly demonstrated acceptance of responsibility for his offense,” prosecutors said in written arguments. “In fact, far from accepting responsibility, it appears that the defendant continues to maintain his innocence.”
Bonds’ lawyers said in court papers that Bonds does not believe home confinement “is necessary” but otherwise has accepted the probation officials’ recommendations.
Illston’s sentencing of other sports figures caught up in the scandal suggest Bonds will not go to prison.
Illston sentenced cyclist Tammy Thomas to six months home detention for perjury and obstruction convictions, even though the probation office suggested she serve 24 months in prison.
But prosecutors said Thomas had more “personal challenges” than Bonds. She lost the ability to practice law as a result of her convictions and suffered financial and health consequences, they said.
They reminded Illston that a federal judge in New York sentenced former Olympic track star Marion Jones to six months in prison for making false statements in the doping probe and a separate investigation into a fraudulent check-cashing scheme.
Jones received the prison sentence even though she “had pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility in her case, and had an infant child at the time of her sentencing,” prosecutors said.