BONDS' TRAINER SENT TO PRISON
Anderson found in contempt for refusing to testify in steroids case
Thursday, July 6, 2006
Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' friend and weight trainer, was sent to federal prison Wednesday after a judge found him in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the Giants star for perjury.
"Mr. Anderson, this is going to be a learning experience and probably one you won't forget for a long time," U.S. District Judge William Alsup said after ruling that Anderson had willfully refused to comply with a lawful order to testify.
"The marshals will take good care of you," the judge said. "They're not going to punish you. The purpose is to get you to change your mind."
Anderson, 40, Bonds' friend since boyhood and his weight trainer since 1998, will be incarcerated indefinitely at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin.
At a grand jury hearing last week, he had balked at testifying about what the government styled as a "mountain of evidence" seized in a raid on his Burlingame home in 2003 indicating he had provided banned drugs to elite athletes.
Anderson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, said he would appeal immediately to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Geragos had urged the judge not to jail Anderson, arguing that by subpoenaing the trainer, the government was violating terms of his plea bargain last year in the BALCO steroids case.
Anderson pleaded guilty to money laundering and distributing steroids and was sentenced to three months in prison and three months' home confinement. At the time of the plea, he had refused to become a government witness.
Geragos also asked the judge to convene an evidentiary hearing to learn how the government obtained a recording on which Anderson admitted providing "undetectable" steroids to Bonds in 2003.
The recording, which the government obtained in 2005, nearly a year after its existence was revealed by The Chronicle, might have been the result of an illegal government wiretap, Geragos said, and he argued that, as a result, the entire grand jury investigation had the "taint" of government misconduct.
The judge rejected the arguments. He dismissed the proposed hearing as "a delaying tactic to waste time," noting that the term of the grand jury that subpoenaed Anderson is due to expire soon.
He told Anderson that his lawyer's other arguments were "not a just cause for refusing to answer those questions -- it's as simple as that." He ordered Anderson imprisoned immediately.
"If Mr. Geragos gets a stay from the Ninth Circuit to get you released, God bless him," the judge said.
Anderson had a whispered conversation with his lawyer, smiled briefly and then was led away by two U.S. marshals.
For more than a year, the government has been investigating whether Bonds committed perjury in December 2003 when he told the grand jury investigating the BALCO case that he had never knowingly used steroids. The probe also focuses on other athletes and the truthfulness of their grand jury testimony, the judge said.
Last year, Bonds' former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, testified that Bonds had confided to her in 2000 that he was using steroids, The Chronicle has reported. Earlier this year, the grand jury took testimony from Bonds' orthopedist, Dr. Arthur Ting, and Giants trainer Stan Conte as part of the investigation.
In court, prosecutors Matt Parrella and Jeff Nedrow said they want to question Anderson about documents seized in the September 2003 raid. The documents include doping calendars, drug price lists and other written material indicating that Anderson was providing banned drugs to Bonds and other athletes, The Chronicle has reported.
The government also is interested in Anderson because Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, told federal agents in 2003 that he had supplied Anderson with undetectable steroids known as "the cream" and "the clear" for Bonds' use. Victor Conte, who pleaded guilty to steroid dealing, later renounced the statement.
From the time he was subpoenaed this May, Anderson has balked at testifying, and outside court his lawyer said prison wouldn't change his mind.
"Jail is not going to have a coercive effect on him whatsoever," Geragos said. "He's willing to take the hit like a man."
Luke Macaulay, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said the judge was right to imprison Anderson.
"Given Mr. Anderson's refusal to testify despite the court's order to do so, we believe the court imposed the appropriate sanction," Macaulay said. "As a general matter regarding civil contempt, Mr. Anderson will remain in custody for the duration of the grand jury or until he complies with the court's order to testify."
The government has declined to say when the term of the grand jury investigating Bonds and the other athletes will expire. In court, the judge said he wanted to avoid delays because in "a couple more weeks, this grand jury will go away."
When the grand jury's term expires, Anderson will be free unless the government extends the grand jury's term or indicts him on criminal contempt-of-court charges.
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle