SAN FRANCISCO – Federal prosecutors on Thursday cut the number of felony charges Barry Bonds faces from 11 to five.
Major League Baseball's home run leader still faces the same punishment he always has, but the paring of the charges still underscored the troubles prosecutors have encountered since indicting him for the first time in 2007 for allegedly lying to a grand jury about his steroids use. Bonds has pleaded not guilty.
The indictment unsealed Thursday was the fourth version of the charges against Bonds. The document reflects the hit the government's case took when the slugger's personal trainer made clear his willingness to go to jail on contempt of court charges instead of testifying against his former client.
The trainer, Greg Anderson, has already served more than a year in prison for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds. Anderson, who prosecutors allege supplied Bonds with steroids, is scheduled to appear in court before Bonds' March 21 trial to formally tell the judge of his plans for the trial. Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos, said Anderson will reiterate his refusal to take the witness stand. It's likely that Anderson will be jailed for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last up to a month.
Prosecutors on Thursday removed from the indictment perjury charges that relied on dates found on so-called doping calendars found in Anderson's apartment that prosecutors allege show Bonds' drug regimen. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled those documents inadmissible at trial because of Anderson's refusal to authenticate them on the witness stand.
In the new indictment, they reduced from nine to three the number of charges alleging Bonds lied under oath when he testified that he never knowingly took performance enhancing drugs.
He is still charged with making false statements for telling the grand jury that no one other than his doctor ever stuck a needle in his body and a catch-all charge that he obstructed the grand jury's investigation into sports doping with his allegedly misleading testimony.
A hearing is scheduled for Friday on whether the jury should hear a secret tape recording made between Bonds' former business partner Steve Hoskins and Anderson allegedly discussing Bonds' steroid use.
The judge has excused Bonds from attending the hearing.
Each count carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison. However, federal sentencing guidelines for a first offense on these charges generally call for a total sentence of 15 to 21 months.