The U.S. obtained a secret recording of home-run king Barry Bonds’s doctor from the slugger’s former business partner, who claims he told the physician about Bonds’s alleged steroid use, a prosecutor said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella told U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco today that the business partner, Steve Hoskins, found the tape and that a copy of a digitized version of the cassette recording has been provided to defense attorneys in Bonds’s perjury trial.
Arthur Ting, a Fremont, California, orthopedic surgeon who has treated Bonds since 1998, testified March 31 that Hoskins never told him that his patient was taking banned anabolic steroids. Hoskins testified that he spoke to Ting at least 50 times about performance-enhancing substances and said the doctor told him to tell Bonds to stop using them.
“It may require us to recall either Hoskins or Ting or both in order to nail down this issue so there is an accurate representation,” Parrella told Illston without the jury present today, day nine of Bonds’s perjury trial. The government was working on transcribing the tape, Parrella told Illston late this morning.
Illston said that based on what she could hear on the tape, the contents of the recording doesn’t appear to contain substantive evidence.
“It doesn’t add anything to the case” or is “inadmissible,” said Illston at a late afternoon hearing about the recording.
Accused of Lying
Bonds, 46, who holds Major League Baseball’s career and single-season home run records, is accused of lying when he told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly took steroids provided by his trainer and that no one other than his doctor gave him injections. Bonds, according to his lawyers, truthfully testified that he received performance-enhancing substances from Anderson, while not knowing what they were because they were new at the time.
The recording surfaced as the government was preparing to wrap up its case. The jury was excused today because one juror was sick.
Hoskins testified that he went to Ting in 1999 to get information about the steroid Winstrol and its side effects at Bonds’s request. He said he had many subsequent conversations with Ting about Bonds’s steroid use, and testified that he recorded Ting in 2003 or 2004 at the physician’s office.
Hoskins said he made the tape to get information about a doctor Ting worked with, then later said he couldn’t remember why he made the recording. He testified that he wasn’t able to locate the recording. Hoskins also made a secret recording of Bonds’s former personal trainer Greg Anderson that was played in court. A voice identified as Anderson was heard allegedly discussing steroid shots he gave to Bonds.
Ting acknowledged on the stand that around 1999, Hoskins asked him about anabolic steroids. He said Hoskins asked him for information about the relationship between steroids and tendon injuries and denied that Hoskins said the information was for Bonds. He said he couldn’t recall having subsequent conversations with Hoskins, although it was “possible.”
Allen Ruby, Bonds’s attorney, told Illston today that his team wanted to have its experts examine the recording device and the original tape itself. He predicted that the tape “will never come into evidence.”
Evaluating the Tape
Illston said it was a “reasonable request” and said the government could have its agents present if prosecutors were concerned about the tape’s security. Tomorrow the defense is having a San Francisco audio laboratory evaluate the tape and a recording device that may have been used by Hoskins to make tomorrow morning, Ruby said. A transcript of the recording made by Bonds’s attorneys was given to Illston.
Parrella told Illston that prosecutors may use the recording to put Hoskins back on the stand to question him about his earlier testimony about conversations with Ting.
“To the extent that it corroborates” what Hoskins said, the tape would be used to show that Hoskins had a conversation with Ting about steroids and recorded it, Parrella said.
If the recording is used as evidence at trial, and it corroborates Hoskins’s story, prosecutors may seek to use it to show inconsistencies in Ting’s testimony, said University of San Francisco law professor Bob Talbot.
“But it’s pretty hard for the jury to just use it for that purpose,” he said. “You just make inferences, and if the doctor heard about it, the doctor must have talked to” Bonds about it.
The case is U.S. v. Bonds, 07-00732, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).