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Prosecutors want prison for Barry Bonds

By Reuters
Friday, December 9, 2011 3:59 EDT
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(Reuters) – Baseball home-run king Barry Bonds should spend 15 months in prison due to his conviction on a single criminal count related to an investigation over steroids in sports, U.S. prosecutors argued in a court filing.

The government’s recommendation on Thursday came after attorneys for Bonds said earlier this week the former slugger should receive no prison time, just probation.

A Northern California jury convicted Bonds in April on one count of obstruction of justice, but deadlocked on three other counts of lying to a grand jury.

The steroids scandal has tarnished some of the biggest stars in baseball.

Bonds, 47, is scheduled to be sentenced in a San Francisco federal court on December 16. In a sentencing memorandum submitted on Thursday, prosecutors also objected to a recommendation from the court’s probation office that would subject Bonds to location monitoring, but no jail.

“Bonds’s pervasive efforts to testify falsely, to mislead the grand jury, to dodge questions, and to simply refuse to answer questions in the grand jury makes his conduct worthy of a significant jail sentence,” prosecutors wrote.

Bonds’ lawyers cited a long history of good works done away from the public eye as one of the reasons he should not go to prison. They also pointed out that only one other individual had been sentenced to jail for making false statements in the steroids probe, while three received less severe punishments.

The Bonds prosecution stemmed from his testimony to a 2003 grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, or BALCO.

Testifying to the grand jury, Bonds admitted getting flaxseed oil, vitamins, protein shakes and creams from his trainer, but he said he had no knowledge of human growth hormones or steroids. He said no one ever injected him other than medical doctors.

In the filing on Thursday, prosecutors said those statements were “baldly contradicted” by several witnesses. They also said Bonds had contacted his trainer Victor Conte before Conte appeared before the grand jury, in an attempt to influence his testimony.

“Intentional, corrupt efforts to obstruct the judicial system such as this require accountability and a severe sanction from the judicial system,” prosecutors wrote. “Without truthful testimony, the judicial system simply cannot function properly in its mission – to get to justice.”

Bonds was the National League’s most valuable player seven times and finished his career in 2007 with 762 home runs, the most in the history of Major League Baseball. Bonds, who spent much of his career with the San Francisco Giants, also set the single-season home-run record with 73 in 2001.

He was indicted three months after breaking Hank Aaron’s career homer record in 2007.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is United States of America v. Barry Lamar Bonds, 07-cr-0732.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Mochila insert follows.

[Photo by Flickr user randomduck, via Wikimedia.]

Reuters
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