Bonds Found Guilty of Obstruction of Justice

13 Apr

Barry Bonds, the former outfielder who hit more career home runs than anyone else in baseball history, was convicted Wednesday of a single count of obstruction of justice, but a federal jury here could not reach a verdict on the question of whether Bonds had lied about never knowingly using steroids during his career.

The conviction, rendered by a jury that listened to nearly three weeks of often graphic testimony about Bonds’s alleged steroid use, amounted to an extremely limited victory for federal prosecutors who had spent years pressing their case against Bonds, 46, in an effort to establish that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his historic career, and then lied about it under oath.

Still, the conviction on the obstruction of justice charge — the jury agreed that Bonds had lied to a 2003 grand jury about whether he had ever been injected with a needle by anyone other than his personal physician — makes Bonds the most prominent publicly tried culprit in what has become known as baseball’s steroid era. The verdict is certain to diminish the legacy of a player who seemed, even early in his career, to be destined for the sport’s Hall of Fame.

Bonds faces a possible sentence of 10 years in federal prison, although he is not expected to receive anywhere near that length of prison time, if any.

Bonds, a seven-time most valuable player in the National League, last played for the San Francisco Giants in 2007, the year he broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record.

The week after the Giants, just two miles away, raised their 2010 World Series championship flag at their home opener at AT&T Park on Friday, Bonds found himself at the end of a long road at the courthouse. He had provided his grand jury testimony more than seven years ago and was first formally charged four years later. But the case stretched on for years with pretrial legal wrangling.
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