Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' former trainer, already has spent 421 days in jail for not testifying when asked to do so; he's likely to refuse to speak again during this trial
SAN FRANCISCO -- It's an act of resistance that in some ways has come to define the government's case against Barry Bonds: The personal trainer refuses to talk.
Greg Anderson already has spent 421 days in jail for not talking, so what's another 2-4 weeks? But after it's all over, after Bonds finally has been tried on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in a case shaped, altered and delayed by his trainer's refusal to speak, the silent trainer could find himself facing another two or even three years behind bars if the government pursues additional charges. Even U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston could sentence him to six months in prison on the spot when he refuses to testify this week as expected.
Indeed, when all is said and done, Anderson, the boyhood friend of baseball's home run king, could wind up having served more than four years in prison. Bonds, win or lose, very likely will have served none. Anderson's incarceration will stem not from distributing steroids -- he served only three months in prison for that -- but rather for defying orders to testify in the government's case against Bonds.
"All for the love of Barry Bonds, I guess," says Peter Keane, a Bay Area law professor and former dean of Golden Gate University School of Law who has closely tracked the BALCO case. "I guess everybody has to have someone to love him; obviously Barry's got Anderson. It's very odd, very unusual, and even a little suspicious."
When the Bonds trial begins Monday inside Courtroom 10, on the 19th floor of the Phillip Burton Federal Building, Anderson will be the ghost hovering over the proceedings. The absence of the guy the government believes plied Bonds with an array of performance-enhancing substances over a five-year period will not be explained to the jury; it will be an unspoken mystery, which Bonds' 12 peers will not be allowed to consider as they judge whether he lied in December 2003 when he said he never knowingly took steroids.
But for Bonds, his lawyers, the prosecutors, the judge, the media, baseball fans and anyone else who has followed the case, Anderson is an inescapable, if not enigmatic figure.
Casual conversations about Anderson usually include one question: How much is Bonds paying him? Why else would someone with little income spend more than a year in prison and be looking at possibly another several just to protect a baseball player?
Well, what is Anderson getting for his silence?
"Nothing, absolutely nothing," says Paula Canny, a close friend of Anderson's and one of his lawyers. "I mean, I wish Greg would get a huge amount of money on the back end. There is no deal, I swear to God.
"Look, Barry was married to Sun [his first wife] for all those years, she gave him two really beautiful kids, he made a fortune. Instead, he screwed her on the pre-nup. The problem with that question is that it presupposes something about Barry that is not accurate."
So, why isn't Anderson talking?
Because, says Canny, he won't give up anybody. It's not about Bonds, she insists, but rather about Anderson's refusal to name names. Canny says that in the spring of 2005, as Anderson and the government were working on a plea agreement over charges related to the trainer's role in the BALCO steroids case, prosecutors were pushing for Bonds to be outed as a doper.
"They went through all these proffers of plea agreements, which said, 'You provided steroids to so and so,'" Canny says. "It was pretty much specific to Barry, though there were other names. What they wanted him to say was, 'I provided steroids to Barry Bonds.' And he said he wouldn't do it."
Canny says the government finally capitulated. Anderson got three months in prison and three months house arrest, and Canny says the trainer believed he had no further obligations. But then the government subpoenaed him to testify before a grand jury investigating Bonds for lying, setting off a string of civil contempt citations that would put Anderson behind bars for nearly 14 months.
"He served his time," Canny says, "and then they went back on the deal."
There is, however, nothing in the plea agreement that suggests Anderson can't be called upon to testify in another case, and in this instance he would have been the government's star witness against Bonds.
Brian Hershman, a former assistant United States attorney who did not work on the Anderson case, says whatever Anderson thinks the government promised him, prosecutors are only bound by whatever they agreed to in their plea deal. If the deal didn't call for Anderson to avoid any further testimony, he has no protection.
"Under the law he had no basis not to provide full and complete testimony and he refused to do so," Hershman says. "He committed an additional crime by obstructing justice and interfering with the administration of justice."
The record also isn't so clear on Anderson's unwillingness to name names. In September 2003, when federal agents raided his home, Anderson submitted for a time to an interview with lead IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, according to a Memorandum of Interview signed by Novitzky and two members of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force who also took part in the raid, John Columbet and Ed Barberini.
Early in the interview, Anderson admitted he gave steroids only to bodybuilders, according to the document. When pressed, the trainer was said to admit to giving steroids and testosterone to some of his athlete clients, but only to "my little guys." When asked for names, Anderson supposedly named Marvin Benard, Bobby Estalella, Armando Rios and Benito Santiago, all of whom were current or former Giants at the time.
Anderson, however, denied that Bonds had taken BALCO's signature steroids known as "the cream" and "the clear." However, when confronted with documents found in his home that appeared to reflect Bonds' steroid use, Anderson ended the interview, saying he didn't want to go to jail.
"Greg's version is that he never talked about anything with Novitkzy," Canny says. "He never, ever told Novitzky that he gave drugs to anybody."
For Bonds, more than seven years after he testified before the BALCO grand jury, the end finally appears near, one way or the other, unless he is convicted and appeals. For Anderson, though, his dealings with the government might be far from over. His refusal to testify has wreaked havoc on the prosecution's case, with Judge Illston ruling inadmissible scores of documentary evidence tied to Bonds, including positive steroid tests, calendars and logs that purportedly show the seven-time MVP's drug regimen. Without Anderson to verify the records refer to Bonds and that he took blood and urine samples from the ballplayer for testing, Illston ruled in February 2009, the evidence was inadmissible hearsay.
The government's appeal of Illston's ruling delayed the case two years, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld her judgment.
Hershman and Keane say Anderson could still face criminal contempt charges after the trial is over. Civil contempt is used to coerce a witness into testifying, and the witness can free himself or herself from prison by complying with the court's order or ultimately being freed upon the completion of the proceeding. Criminal contempt, though, is used to punish, and prosecutors, believing Anderson's actions have dramatically obstructed their case, could file charges that would expose the trainer to far more jail time. In that instance, Anderson would have the right to a jury trial.
"He's gonna find himself spending a considerable amount of time behind bars for refusing to provide this testimony," Keane says. "If this were my client, I'd be breaking his arm, saying, 'What are you doing, are you crazy?' I would tell him, 'I'm not gonna be part of it. I'm not gonna help you commit suicide.'"
Keane speaks as if he has little doubt the government will pursue criminal contempt charges, even if Bonds is found guilty.
"For the government to walk away and say, 'OK, we're feeling good about nailing Bonds,' those are apples and oranges," says Keane, who believes Anderson could be sentenced to two or three years for criminal contempt. "You have a separate course of criminal conduct that Anderson has pursued, and I think it stands by itself."
Anderson is scheduled to appear in Illston's courtroom Tuesday morning, at which point he has indicated he will again refuse to testify. Illston has said she would send him back to prison immediately.
Canny says Anderson, who is working as a personal trainer at the Foster City Athletic Club, is well aware this might not be his last prison stint, but she says he is unwavering in his stand.
"I feel empathy for him," Canny says. "And I'm also proud of him, like the kind of pride that gives you goose bumps and your hair stands on end. And that really is true. I can't say that I've always agreed with Greg's position, but I've always respected that he hasn't wavered. He is so committed and his commitment to what he believes is the right thing to do is awe-inspiring to me."
And how does Anderson feel about Bonds at this point?
Canny pauses for a while before responding. "I mean," she says before another pregnant pause. "I mean, I don't think Greg feels any differently than he always has about Barry."
And how's that?
"That they were friends. That they're friends."
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