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Bonds, other BALCO figures want to keep documents

11/27/2007 - MLB Barry Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' personal trainer, Greg
Anderson, and BALCO founder Victor Conte asked a federal judge
Monday for permission to keep court documents detailing drug use
among elite athletes, including the slugger's grand jury testimony
at the center of his perjury case.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston on Sept. 11 ordered
Anderson, Conte and two other BALCO defendants to return or destroy
the documents they received after they were charged in 2004 with
operating a steroids ring at the now-defunct Bay Area Laboratory
Co-Operative.

Federal prosecutors, who requested the order, argue that since
all four men -- including BALCO executive James Valente and former
track coach Remi Korchemny -- ultimately pleaded guilty, they no
longer need the documents. The papers include other athletes' grand
jury testimony and search warrants used to raid BALCO and
Anderson's house in 2003.

But the attorneys for the men argue that many of the documents
are beyond their control, having been leaked to the media or
voluntarily turned over to federal lawmakers and Greek government
officials conducting steroid probes of their own.

The 2006 book "Game of Shadows," written by two San Francisco
Chronicle reporters recounting Bonds' alleged steroid use, is based
mostly on grand jury transcripts and other confidential court
documents leaked by former attorney Troy Ellerman.

Ellerman, who represented Valente, was sentenced to 2{ years in
prison after confessing he was the authors' source.

In court papers filed Monday, the four BALCO figures said they
fear prosecution based on Illston's order if the sealed documents
are leaked again.

The lawyers for the men wrote that "the documents in question,
namely grand jury transcripts and search warrant affidavits, have
long since been disseminated to media and are in the hands of
journalists, prosecutors and investigators around the world."

The document said that Anderson fears a return to prison if the
judge's order remains in effect because the government will accuse
him of any future leaks.

Anderson spent a little more than a year in prison for refusing
to testify against Bonds, who was charged earlier this month with
perjury. Anderson was released from prison Nov. 15, the same day
Bonds was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of
obstruction of justice.

"As the recent indictment of Mr. Bonds makes clear, the
government was perfectly able to bring perjury and obstruction
charges against him without Mr. Anderson's testimony," lawyer Mary
McNamara wrote for the four BALCO figures. "In light of the
government's aggressive and apparently unnecessary pursuit of Mr.
Anderson, he too has good cause to fear accusations of violating
this court's orders when more of the sealed material is
published."

For his part, Conte said he doesn't want his offices and home
raided for a third time if another leak of sensitive documents
occur. Federal investigators initially raided BALCO in 2003 and
seized numerous documents -- including two positive steroid tests of
Bonds' blood, prosecutors say -- and other evidence linking dozens
of athletes to steroid use. In 2005, authorities raided his home in
search of evidence that he had leaked grand jury testimony to the
Chronicle.

"Mr. Conte was the target of an armed FBI raid of his home, the
publication of the government's unfounded suspicions that he was
the leaker ... and the stress, cost and intimidation of a
full-scale government criminal investigation," the court papers
state.

The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco declined comment.