Attorney: 'It's always been the U.S. versus Bonds'

Updated: March 20, 2005, 7:17 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A former girlfriend of Barry Bonds has testified before a federal grand jury that the slugger told her he used steroids, the woman's attorney said Sunday.

Kimberly Bell, 35, of San Jose, testified with full immunity for about two hours Thursday before a federal grand jury here, attorney Hugh Levine told The Associated Press.

Bonds has consistently denied ever knowingly using steroids.

Levine said Bell will likely testify again in the near future.

Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, told the San Francisco Chronicle in a story published Sunday that the slugger has no reason to be concerned about her testimony. He accused Bell of attempting to extort money from Bonds, and said she is using the platform to promote a book about her life.

In February 2004, after a federal investigation into a Bay Area company accused of providing steroids to professional athletes, a grand jury indicted Bonds' former weight trainer Greg Anderson, Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative founder Victor Conte and two other men on charges of distributing undetectable steroids. The case is still pending.

Rains said the subpoena of Bell was an indication that Bonds is the real target in the BALCO investigation.

"It's always been the U.S. versus Bonds, and they're always just gunning for the big guy," Rains told the Chronicle. "I guess this is just an extension of that."

Bell, who says she dated Bonds between 1994 and 2003, testified that the left fielder told her in 2000 that he had begun using steroids, Levine confirmed.

Bell has made similar allegations previously in interviews with the Chronicle and Geraldo Rivera of Fox News. However, Bell acknowledged she never saw Bonds use or possess drugs.

The grand jury testimony is sealed, and Levine said he wasn't there when she testified. However, he told the AP, "It is my understanding she told the grand jury" the same information she revealed on Fox News.

The Chronicle has reported that court documents show authorities found evidence that Bonds obtained steroids and other drugs from BALCO. Conte also told investigators that Bonds received steroids known as "the clear" and "the cream."

Bonds swore under oath to the grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used steroids. He claimed his trainer had given him what he thought was flaxseed oil and arthritis balm.

"It seems pretty clear to me she was subpoenaed after she went on the Geraldo show and expressly said that Barry Bonds had used steroids," Levine told the AP. "The lead (IRS) investigator in the BALCO investigation ... became aware of that and made the U.S. attorney aware of it, and they decided to put her in the grand jury."

Levine said it appears the grand jury is investigating whether Bonds lied under oath.

In an interview before she was subpoenaed, Bell told the Chronicle that they began dating in 1994, while Bonds was divorcing his first wife, Sun, and they continued after Bonds returned from his honeymoon with his present wife, Liz Watson, in 1998.

The Chronicle also reported, citing two unidentified sources "familiar with an account of her testimony," that Bell also testified that Bonds gave her $80,000 in cash in 2001 in separate $9,000 payments to help her purchase a house in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Federal law regulates cash transactions of more than $10,000.

Rains denied that Bonds ever made large cash payments to Bell.

But Levine said records show otherwise. "I certainly know that there is some evidence in the nature of records showing that money came from Barry Bonds and went toward the purchase of this house, and that's about as far as I can go at this point," he said.

After they parted ways in 2003, Bell threatened to sue Bonds for failing to pay off the Arizona house, then decided to write the book instead.

The government has subpoenaed Bell's bank records and about 90 minutes of voice mail messages from Bonds that she recorded, Levine said.

Messages left by the AP on Sunday with Rains and an IRS spokeswoman were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press