SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Bonds' lawyers asked a federal judge Tuesday to follow a federal probation officer's recommendation and give Major League Baseball's career home run leader probation when he's sentenced for obstruction of justice this month.
Bonds, 47, was convicted in April of obstructing a grand jury's sports doping investigation with an evasive answer. Prosecutors dropped three other perjury counts after the jury deadlocked on those charges, which accused Bonds of lying to the grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Federal sentencing guidelines for conviction on the charge recommend a prison sentence between 15 months and 21 months. But Bonds' lawyers cited an investigative report prepared by a federal probation officer for the judge that also recommended a sentence of probation.
The lawyers said they disagreed, however, with the probation report's recommendation that Bonds spend an unspecified time under "location monitoring," a form of house arrest.
In their motion, Bonds' lawyers said the probation department cited Bonds' "significant history of charitable, civic and prior good works" as a major reason for leniency. The probation officer also noted that Bonds' conviction appears "to be an aberration when taken in context of his entire life," according to the lawyers.
"The behavior for which Mr. Bonds is to be sentenced relates to his obstruction of justice conduct before the grand jury," lawyers quoted the probation officer as reporting in the sentencing recommendation. "The sentence to be imposed should not be about steroid use and how this use impacts his stature."
The lawyers said the probation officer recommended probation because other sports figures convicted of similar charges stemming from the same sports doping investigation also avoided prison.
Juries convicted cyclist Tammy Thomas of perjury for testifying she never used steroids and former track coach Trevor Graham for lying to investigators about his involvement with a steroids dealer. Both were sentenced to periods of house arrest, which is considered a form of probation.
Former professional football player Dana Stubblefield pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and was sentenced to probation.
Prosecutors were expected to submit their sentencing recommendations in Bonds' case this week. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 16.