Major League Baseball is exploring its options for punishing Giants' star Barry Bonds if he is indicted by a federal grand jury, according to a report in The Washington Post.
The report says that a potential indictment would not be an admission of guilt. But anonymous sources apparently told the newspaper that the players' union is preparing itself for a battle if a punishment is handed down
A federal grand jury in San Francisco that is investigating potential tax evasion, money laundering and perjury charges against Bonds is set to expire at the end of the month, an assistant to Michael Rains, Bonds' defense lawyer, told The Post.
There is widespread speculation that the grand jury could reach a decision as early as Thursday.
So is an indictment coming?
The Post says there is no official word on that yet, but Bonds' lawyers and MLB are preparing in the event there is one.
"We are very prepared," Bonds' attorney Laura Enos told The Associated Press. "We have excellent tax records and we are very comfortable that he has not shortchanged the government at all."
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused on July 14 to free Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, from prison. A federal judge on July 5 ordered Anderson jailed until he agreed to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds.
Anderson was one of five people convicted in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal. The Burlingame-based nutritional supplement company was exposed as a steroid laboratory for top athletes.
The grand jury is probing Bonds for allegedly lying to a different grand jury that led to Anderson's conviction.
Bonds testified in 2003 that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs and said Anderson had given him flaxseed oil and arthritis balm, not steroids.
The BALCO probe netted calendars and other documents connecting Bonds to the lab.
Former girlfriend Kimberly Bell is a key witness in the case and has testified that Bonds told her of his steroid use and flew into rages she attributed to steroid use, according to grand jury testimony obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Enos said Bonds denies those allegations and will argue that Bell's testimony amounts to "pillow talk."
"It's a 'he said, she said' thing," Enos said.
The grand jury also is believed to be investigating Bonds for tax evasion in connection with cash he allegedly gave Bell to buy a house. The money came from sales of Bonds' signatures on baseball memorabilia, and the income allegedly was not reported to the IRS.
Enos said that claim ? based upon the ex-girlfriend's testimony and the allegations of childhood friend and former business partner Steve Hoskins ? was untrue. Enos said Hoskins gave Bell the cash to curry favor with Bonds and to thank the slugger for helping him become rich by putting him in charge of a lucrative memorabilia business.
Enos said Hoskins also bought Bonds a $350,000 Bentley Rolls Royce, which she said Bonds paid $150,000 in gift taxes.
"The guy without Barry didn't have a penny," Enos said.
Hoskins recently has surfaced as another key government witness in the investigation of Bonds. He was a boyhood friend who went into business with the baseball star, selling such memorabilia as signed jerseys, bats and baseball cards. The two had a falling out in 2003, which Enos said was over Bonds' accusations that Hoskins forged the slugger's signature on at least two endorsement contracts and sold Bonds' gear without his permission.
Hoskins' lawyer, Michael Cardoza, said he was "laughing" at Bonds' defense.
"I'm laughing because I love this defense. Tell them to think of a better story," he said. "Tell them to put that defense on and to keep believing their client. They're going to get it shoved down their throats."
Bonds passed Babe Ruth and moved into second place on the career home run list with No. 715 on May 28.
He's batting .246 this season with 40 RBIs, and has missed 20 games because of knee problems.
If charged with perjury and convicted, he could face up to five years in prison. He could face another five years if charged and convicted of money laundering.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right....
July 18th, 2006, 11:36 am
Personally I don't understand why the league would further punish him if he is indicted... That doesn't make any sense to me... They should punish them at their own behest, and act, as they are, as an independent body... This incident isn't like a DUI or out-side of baseball drug charge where bringing the charge codifies the allegation... This is something that baseball knows of, and something they are well aware of... These federal charges should be meaningless to the league as far as steriods go...
I can SORT of understand further disciplining Bonds for comitting purgery or tax evasion, but why???... they know it's trumped up crap... IMO Selig is an idiot and fumbles around confusedly doing this and that in an incoherent manner... Which is a big part of the reason the league is in such shambles... He doesn't seem to take into consideration what sort of precident he's setting, or look to historical rulings to make current and future decisions... He just arbritrarily does as he pleases and it makes baseball look like the discombobulated mess it is!