Bonds, U.S. Attorney, Mum on New Charges

The spokesman for the San Francisco U.S. attorney’s office cited the Balco steroid case as one of the office’s big successes in Wednesday’s Recorder story about the office’s performance. The Balco prosecution so far hasn’t resulted in much jail time for anyone, but questions were resurrected Tuesday about whether more indictments could be in the works.

The gossip comes thanks to a big Sports Illustrated story that uses a wide range of sources to conclude that Barry Bonds used enough steroids to, well, start breaking home run records as he neared a normal baseball player’s retirement age.

Reached Tuesday afternoon, Bonds’ lawyer, Michael Rains, said he wasn’t expecting any big legal fallout from the story, but limited further comments to an e-mail he sent to reporters Tuesday afternoon.

And what an e-mail it was. It began by saying that Bonds does not intend to read the story (he’s apparently a fan of the pre-emptive denial), and went on to claim that the Chronicle reporters who wrote the book from which the story was excerpted obtained Bonds’s grand jury testimony illegally (it’s not clear what was illegal). It also criticizes the reporters for using anonymous sources and reprinting information they already published.

“The exploitation of Barry’s good name and these attempts to eviscerate his sensational accomplishments … may make those responsible wealthy, but in the end, they need to live with themselves,? Rains wrote.

And Luke Macaulay, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, had much less to say about whether the musclebound slugger would be prosecuted for allegedly perjuring himself in front of a federal grand jury (the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that Bonds told the grand jury he didn’t use steroids).

Macaulay said his office couldn’t comment, but such a prosecution seems like a longshot, given that, from the Tuesday story, it’s not obvious whether Bonds clearly lied — rather than obfuscate the truth — about his alleged steroid use.

And such perjury charges are relatively rare, but certainly not unheard of. Just look at Chris Webber. The basketball star — currently with the Philadelphia 76ers — pleaded guilty in 2003 for lying to a Michigan federal grand jury about perks players received when he was in college.

Justin Scheck

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