Report: Ex-friend told feds Bonds used steroids

Updated: July 14, 2006, 4:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Barry Bonds' former best friend and business associate told investigators that the San Francisco Giants slugger used steroids and suffered "roid rages," his lawyer told The New York Times.

Steve Hoskins also told investigators that Bonds gave him thousands of dollars to give to two of Bonds' girlfriends, according to Michael Cardoza, Hoskins' lawyer.

Cardoza told The Times that Hoskins spoke to investigators, but would not say if he has testified before the grand jury investigating Bonds for perjury and tax evasion. The grand jury is meeting Thursday and again next week. After that, the grand jury's term expires.

Bonds told MLB.com that he didn't know why the government was going after him.

"I don't usually comment [on the case] because I don't know how to comment on it," Bonds told MLB.com. "I don't know why the government is doing what it's doing. It doesn't make any sense to me. I don't know how to discuss the case. I really don't. Maybe later on I'll be able to. I try not to think about it. I try to keep my mind as clear as I can and as positive as I can."

The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that Major League Baseball officials, who have said they have no inside knowledge of the grand jury proceedings, expect Bonds to be indicted on perjury and tax evasion charges. Bonds reportedly testified before a grand jury in 2003 that he did not knowingly use steroids.

Cardoza told The Times that Bonds' steroid use and "roid rages" led to the end of Hoskins' friendship with the slugger.

"Stevie would nag Barry to get off the stuff," Cardoza told the newspaper. "Their relationship finally went in the toilet, business and personal. And with that, Barry is saying 'Stevie stole from me'. It's not true. He reports that to the feds. The feds do a full-blown investigation."

Hoskins, who was Bonds' best man at his wedding in 1998, and Bonds sold the outfielder's sports equipment and collectible lithographs through Hoskins' company.

Michael Rains, Bonds' lawyer, told The Times that Bonds went to the federal government in June 2002 to complain that Hoskins was forging his name and stealing from him. The government then "turned around and used" Hoskins as an informant, Rains told the newspaper.

Rains told The Times that Hoskins and Kimberly Bell, Bonds' former girlfriend who has twice testified against him before a grand jury, are the government's two main witnesses.

"We made no deal with the feds," Cardoza told The Times. "We cut no deal with anybody. All we did was tell the truth and protect Steve and prove to them that Barry is not a truth-teller."

Laura Enos, Bonds' attorney for business matters, told The Times that Hoskins threatened her client after Bonds confronted Hoskins in June 2003 over the alleged forging of Bonds' signature on contracts.

"He came and we met in a conference room," Enos told The Times. "He said: 'I have three doors. If you don't drop this memorabilia issue, I'm going to ruin Barry. Behind door No. 1 is an extramarital affair. Behind door No. 2 is failure to declare income tax. And behind door No. 3 is use of steroids. And I will go to the press and ruin Barry. His records will be ruined. He will never get into the Hall of Fame.'"

Hoskins and Bonds grew up together outside San Francisco and after Bonds signed with the Giants as a free agent in 1993, the ballplayer helped Hoskins go into business selling sports memorabilia bearing Bonds' signature.

Hoskins became a fixture in the Giants clubhouse, but a rift opened during spring training 2003 when Bonds spotted a fan wearing a jersey bearing his autograph that he claimed was a fake, Cardoza said.

He flew into a rage, and Hoskins had to convince him the autograph was authentic, but simmering tensions between the two came to a head, Cardoza said.

"That's what started the big rift," Cardoza told The Associated Press. "And the big rift was already going on, because Barry was demanding more from Steve. He was being even more demanding and abusive of Steve. The chasm between Barry and Steve really started to widen then."

Some of the tension can be traced to an arrangement Bonds had requested for delivering money to two girlfriends, Cardoza said.

Bonds gave more than $100,000 of his profits from the business to Hoskins to pass along to those girlfriends, including down payments on homes and a car for Bell, Cardoza said.

With the grand jury widely expected to deliver its findings soon, the relationship that boiled over between Bonds and Hoskins could play a key role in any indictment against one of baseball's greatest sluggers.

Bonds hit 12 home runs in the first half of this season to give him 720 for his career, 35 from tying home run king Hank Aaron's record of 755. He passed Babe Ruth and moved into second place on the career list with No. 715 on May 28.

He's batting .249 this season with 38 RBIs, and has missed 20 games with knee problems.

If charged with perjury and convicted, he could face up to five years in prison. He could face another five years if charged and convicted of money laundering.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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