Barry Bonds Trial May Hinge on Giambi Testifying Trainer Supplied Steroids

The perjury trial of Barry Bonds may hinge on whether jurors believe the baseball home run king, who claims he didn’t know his trainer was giving him steroids, or Jason Giambi, the former New York Yankee expected to testify he was given the muscle-building drugs by the same trainer.

The trial, which begins March 21 in federal court in San Francisco with jury selection, may also feature testimony by Bonds’s ex-teammate on the San Francisco Giants, Benito Santiago. If called, he’s expected to say that he also got steroids from trainer Greg Anderson, prosecutors have said. Anderson, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to distributing performance-enhancing drugs, will refuse to take the stand at the trial, his lawyer has said.

With testimony from Giambi, Santiago and possibly other players who have admitted receiving steroids, prosecutors will seek to show Anderson played a key role in supplying the drugs at the time they allege Bonds was taking them, said Richard Cutler, a former federal prosecutor not involved in the case.

“They are going to show what Anderson’s practice was, and try to convince the jury that there’s no reason to believe that he did anything different with Bonds than he did with the other players,” said Cutler. “It’s building a circumstantial case.”

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building and United States Court House in San Francisco, California. Close

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Photographer: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building and United States Court House in San Francisco, California.

Bonds, 46, who broke Hank Aaron’s record of 755 career home runs in August 2007, faces four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for telling a grand jury in 2003 that he didn’t knowingly take steroids. The maximum sentence for each of the counts is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Bonds, who was first charged in November 2007, has pleaded not guilty.

Urine Samples

When asked whether Anderson ever gave him anything he knew to be a steroid, Bonds said, “I don’t think Greg would do anything like that to me,” according to an indictment. Responding to a question about whether he ever took any steroids Anderson gave him, Bonds answered: “Not that I know of.”

Bonds’s lawyers won a ruling barring prosecutors from showing jurors urine-sample log sheets marked “Barry B” as well as drug tests and other documents they say show that Bonds tested positive for the substances.

Some of the documents were seized during the investigation of Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, the Burlingame, California, lab at the center of a federal steroids in sports investigation. The lab’s owners pleaded guilty to steroid distribution. Prosecutors say other documents were created by Anderson.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled that without the testimony of Anderson linking the information to Bonds, the documents are “hearsay” and not admissible as evidence.

Giambi, Anderson

Giambi will testify that he met Anderson through Bonds and began working with the trainer in November 2002, prosecutors said. Jurors will hear him talk about receiving steroids from Anderson, along with the trainer’s instructions and schedule about how to administer them, court documents show.

Giambi may also be asked about his grand jury testimony that Anderson told him the substances were undetectable on tests.

Bonds holds the Major League Baseball career record with 762 home runs and the single-season record with 73 home runs in 2001. He played 22 seasons in the major leagues, the first seven with the Pittsburgh Pirates before moving to the San Francisco Giants in 1993 as a free agent. He won a record seven National League Most Valuable Player awards, including four straight from 2001 through 2004. He hasn’t played since the 2007 season.

Colorado Rockies

Giambi, 40, a first baseman for the Colorado Rockies, is about to start his 17th major league season. He played for the Yankees from 2002 to 2008 and also played for the Oakland Athletics, where he was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2000.

Santiago, 46, retired from the MLB in 2005 after spending 20 years with nine teams. He was a five-time All-Star catcher. He played with Bonds on the Giants from 2001 to 2003.

Other government witnesses include Kimberly Bell, Bonds’s former mistress, who may testify that Bonds told her he was taking steroids prior to the 2000 season, according to court documents. She may also describe physical changes she saw in Bonds, including bloating, acne, sexual dysfunction and testicular shrinkage, that prosecutors say are tied to steroids use, the documents show.

Bonds’s business associates may testify about conversations they had with Anderson about providing Bonds with steroids and seeing Anderson injecting Bonds with a substance, court records show.

Civil Contempt Charges

Prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed that Anderson won’t be called to testify at the trial. Illston said March 1 that she intends to jail Anderson when the trial starts; he has previously been jailed for more than a year on civil contempt charges after refusing to testify about his dealings with Bonds.

The government’s evidence filings include photos of Bonds depicting him as trim, then heftier through the years. Prosecutors also say evidence will show that Bonds tested positive for steroids in June 2003 in connection with baseball’s drug testing program.

Jeffrey Nedrow, an assistant U.S. attorney, declined to comment.

Bonds’s attorneys may call government investigators as witnesses to question them about their tactics. A trainer for the Giants and an expert in steroids are also on Bonds’s witness list, according to court documents.

Allen Ruby, Bonds’s attorney, declined to comment.

‘We Don’t Care’

“The biggest defense that the Bonds team has is jury nullification -- that even if prosecutors prove their case, the jury shrugs and says, ‘We don’t care,’ and decides not to convict,” said Cutler, of Philadelphia-based Dechert LLP.

Jurors selected for the trial must agree in writing to an order not to talk, e-mail or text about the case on Facebook, Twitter or on their iPhones, according to a questionnaire distributed to prospective jurors March 17.

Chris St. Hilaire, president of Jury Impact, a consulting company based in Costa Mesa, California, said he’s never seen such a restriction on jurors and that it’s a recognition that the lawyers in the case “know how influential social media is now.”

The Giants won their first World Series in 56 years in November, defeating the Texas Rangers three years after Bonds left the team.

The trial, expected to last at least two weeks, begins 10 days before the MLB season starts.

The case is U.S. v. Bonds, 07-00732, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this report: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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