Bonds case to be handled by same judge as other BALCO cases

The federal criminal perjury case of former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has been reassigned to the same judge who has handled eight other cases related to the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, sports steroid probe.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco signed an order Monday transferring Bonds’s case to her court.

Bonds, 43, who set a record in August as Major League Baseball’s all-time home run leader, was indicted Nov. 15 on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

He is accused of lying when he denied to a grand jury in 2003 that he had been given steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by his trainer, Greg Anderson. Bonds is not criminally charged with using such drugs.

Bonds’s case was originally randomly assigned to U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who coincidentally is the same judge who sent Anderson to prison for 13 and one-half months for contempt of court for refusing to testify against Bonds before a grand jury. Anderson was freed after Bonds was indicted.

Prosecutors on the same day the indictment was filed asked Illston to transfer Bonds’s case to her court for reasons of judicial efficiency. They said some of the earlier defendants “could be witnesses in the Bonds matter” and some of the evidence would be the same.

Bonds’s first court appearance will be Dec. 7 before a federal magistrate in San Francisco. No appearances before Illston have been scheduled thus far.

In the original BALCO case, BALCO executives Victor Conte and James Valente, Anderson and track coach Remi Korchemny were indicted in 2003 on numerous charges of conspiring to give professional athletes anabolic steroids and mislabeled drugs and money laundering.

All pleaded guilty before Illston to reduced charges and were given sentences ranging from probation to eight months in custody.

Illston was later assigned four other BALCO-related cases. Chemist Patrick Arnold, who admitted to making a steroid-like drug called “the clear,” pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute a different drug and was sentenced to six months in custody.

Former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski pleaded guilty before Illston in April to charges of distributing anabolic steroids and money laundering.

The cases of championship cyclist Tammy Thomas and track coach Trevor Graham, both of whom are accused of perjury in the steroids probe, are still pending before Illston.

One case not assigned to Illston was that of former BALCO attorney Troy Ellerman, who admitted to violating a court order by leaking confidential grand jury transcripts to news reporters. He was sentenced in July by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White to two and one-half years in prison.

— Bay City News

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