SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Bonds pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he lied to federal investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs.
The home run king's arraignment in U.S. District Court marked his first public appearance since a Nov. 15 indictment charging him with four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice.
If he's convicted of all five charges Bonds could spend more than two years in prison.
Bonds appeared relaxed as he smiled and chatted with his cadre of attorneys as he waited for the judge to arrive in court. He then stood before the judge with his hands clasped behind his back as he said he understood his rights.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered Bonds freed on $500,000 personal recognizance, meaning he won't have to put up any money unless he violates the conditions of his release. He was ordered to return to court Feb. 7.
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Bonds also had been expected to be booked and have his mug shot taken, but newly hired defense attorney Alan Ruby told the judge Bonds was booked Thursday.
After the hearing, Bonds greeted a small group of supporters who cheered for him in the courthouse lobby, signing an autograph for one woman standing outside the elevator.
Arriving at court earlier with his wife, Liz, and attorney Cristina Arguedas, Bonds stepped from a black sport-utility vehicle and waded through a crush of television cameras, reporters and onlookers as they entered the Phillip Burton Federal Building. Wearing a dark blue suit and tie, he went through the metal detectors and waved to the crowd before stepping into the courthouse elevator and heading to the 19th floor for the hearing.
Prosecutors allege Bonds repeatedly lied when he testified under oath that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
Several of Bonds' former associates are expected to contradict that testimony, and prosecutors claim to have a blood test from November 2000 that shows a "Barry B" testing positive for two types of steroids.
But for all the speculation and accusations that hung over him as he chased Hank Aaron's milestone, Bonds has never been identified by Major League Baseball as testing positive for steroids.
Several former San Francisco Giants teammates and other players, including Detroit Tiger Gary Sheffield and New York Yankee Jason Giambi, also could testify if the case goes to trial, which wouldn't start until late next year at the earliest.
Bonds' defense team is expected to attack the credibility of the witnesses, who include Bonds' former mistress and a one-time business partner who had a bitter split with the slugger over memorabilia sales. Legal experts say the reliability of the drug test, seized during a raid of the BALCO steroids lab, also will be subject to fierce scrutiny by Bonds' lawyers.
The media spectacle at the federal courthouse began Thursday afternoon when television trucks with satellite dishes began to ring the block-long building.
The 10-page indictment charging Bonds mainly consists of excerpts from his December 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO. It cites 19 occasions in which Bonds allegedly lied under oath.
Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson spent most of the last year in jail for refusing to testify against his longtime friend. Anderson was released hours after the indictment was unsealed Nov. 15, and his attorneys said he didn't cooperate with the grand jury. They also say he will refuse to testify at Bonds' trial, making it possible that prosecutors will again ask a judge to send him back to prison on contempt charges.
"I fully expect the government to start ratcheting up the pressure on Greg," said Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos. "He will never cooperate with the government. He doesn't trust them."
At the end of the 2003 season, Bonds said, Anderson rubbed some cream on his arm that the trainer said would help him recover. Anderson also gave him something he called "flax seed oil," Bonds said.
Bonds then testified that prior to the 2003 season, he never took anything supplied by Anderson — which the indictment alleges was a lie because the doping calendars seized from Anderson's house were dated 2001.
Bonds has long been shadowed by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. The son of former big league star Bobby Bonds, he broke into the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 as a lithe, base-stealing outfielder.
By the late 1990s, he'd bulked up to more than 240 pounds — his head, in particular, becoming noticeably bigger. His physical growth was accompanied by a remarkable power surge.
He joins a parade of defendants tied to the BALCO investigation, including Anderson, who served three months in prison and three months of home detention after pleading guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering.
BALCO founder Victor Conte also served three months in prison after he pleaded guilty to steroids distribution.
Bonds is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in the steroids probe, which also ensnared track star Marion Jones. She pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal investigators about using steroids and faces up to six months in prison.
Bonds, long represented by attorney Michael Rains, added high-profile lawyers Arguedas and Ruby to his defense team on the eve of his arraignment.
Unlike Rains, both have extensive experience in federal cases. Arguedas, based in Berkeley, represented several athletes called to testify before the BALCO grand jury. Ruby, a San Jose lawyer who has built a career representing Silicon Valley corporate titans, most recently got federal corruption charges dropped against former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales.