Barry Bonds has some charges dropped
SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal prosecutors on Wednesday dropped all the remaining charges against Barry Bonds, days after a judge upheld the slugger's conviction on an obstruction of justice count.
The government's decision to dismiss the remaining counts was made, in part, because Judge Susan Illston's refusal to dismiss Barry Bonds' conviction Friday was seen as an overwhelming victory for prosecutors. Her decision left them confident they can withstand Bonds' appeal of the conviction.
By seeking a dismissal without prejudice, the government has created several scenarios:
• It allows the government to proceed with sentencing as scheduled. A source close to the case said the government is expected to seek jail time, as Bonds was convicted on the most serious of the counts against him -- obstruction of justice -- and sentencing guidelines recommend 15 to 21 months in prison. A source said prosecutors believe Illston would not have gone ahead with sentencing if the other charges were pending.
• By asking Judge Illston to dismiss without prejudice, the government has greater flexibility to try him on those counts again. Right now the clock is running on Bonds' Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. By dismissing the case, the government stops the clock and can reindict him on those counts if prosecutors are unhappy with Illston's sentence.
• The government has leverage to force a deal with Bonds. If Bonds agrees to drop the appeal of his one conviction, the government might agree to seek a dismissal of the charges with prejudice, meaning they could not re-indict.
-- T.J. Quinn, Outside the Lines
The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco filed court papers informing U.S. District Judge Susan Illston it was dismissing the three charges of making false statements still pending against Bonds, Major League Baseball's all-time home runs leader. A jury deadlocked on the three counts at Bonds' trial in April.
The deadline for prosecutors to start the process for a retrial on those charges was about 30 days away. Now, Bonds won't face a new trial on accusations that he lied to a grand jury back in 2003 when he testified that he never knowingly received steroids or human growth hormone from trainer Greg Anderson, and that no one other than his doctors ever injected him with anything.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella declined comment.
Bonds' lawyer, Allen Ruby, said that his client's legal team was focused on the slugger's sentencing hearing in December. Ruby declined to discuss whether Bonds intended to appeal the obstruction conviction.
Bonds was among the biggest stars convicted as a result of an investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) steroids ring, a probe headed by federal agent Jeff Novitzky that also ensnared Olympic gold medal-winning track star Marion Jones.
Bonds was initially charged in November 2007 with lying to the grand jury during a December 2003 appearance when he testified that his personal trainer misled him into believing the designer steroids and performance enhancing drugs he was taking were legal supplements.
A majority of jurors this year voted to acquit him on charges he lied when he denied knowingly taking steroids and human growth hormone. The jurors voted 11-1 to convict him for denying that anyone other than his doctor ever injected him.
Bonds faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, though federal guidelines recommend a sentence of 15 to 21 months.
Illston, who upheld the obstruction count last Friday, also is free to impose a lesser sentence, which she did after two previous trials involving a champion cyclist and track coach each convicted of lying in cases that grew out of the BALCO probe. Cyclist Tammy Thomas and track coach Trevor Graham each received sentences of house arrest.
Bonds, Thomas and Graham were the only three BALCO figures who pleaded not guilty and went to trial on charges of lying about performance enhancing drugs.
Prosecutors on Wednesday dismissed the counts "without prejudice," meaning they could reinstate the charges before the statute of limitations expires. However, that's a routine legal maneuver when dismissing criminal charges and dropped cases are rarely reinstated.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press