BALCO lawyer Ellerman out of prison

Updated: September 9, 2009, 12:06 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The lawyer who leaked confidential grand jury testimony of Barry Bonds and other athletes to the San Francisco Chronicle five years ago was released from prison after serving 16 months of his 30-month sentence.

Troy Ellerman was released Jan. 16, according to the Bureau of Prisons Web site. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said Tuesday he was let go under a program in which a term can be reduced by one year if a prisoner successfully completes a substance-abuse treatment program.

In addition, prisoners who serve more than one year are eligible to receive 54 days off for each year of good behavior under standard rules, Billingsley said.

Ellerman's release was reported earlier this year by the Daily News and mentioned Tuesday by the Web site BizofBaseball.com.

"He's looking for some full-time work," said Ellerman's lawyer, Scott L. Tedmon. "He's going to be doing some consulting on the business side, which is similar to what he was doing with the rodeo."

Ellerman was commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association from 2005-07. He voluntarily surrendered his membership in the California State Bar rather than face disbarment.

Ellerman once represented Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative founder Victor Conte and later was the lawyer for BALCO vice president James Valente. Ellerman allowed then-Chronicle reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada to view the testimony of Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and sprinter Tim Montgomery in 2004.

At first, Ellerman blamed federal investigators for leaking the testimony and said the case against his client should be dismissed due to government misconduct. He told a judge he did not know the source of the leaks.

Ellerman pleaded guilty in February 2007 to two counts of criminal contempt and one count each of obstruction of justice and filing a false declaration. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White sentenced him that July to 2½ years in prison.

Prosecutors said Ellerman attributed his decision to show the transcripts to alcohol, drugs, depression and "hounding" by journalists. After he pleaded guilty, prosecutors dropped their case against Fainaru-Wada and Chronicle reporter Lance Williams. They had faced up to 18 months in prison for refusing to divulge the source of the leak.

The athletes testified as part of a federal investigation into the alleged illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds is under indictment on 10 counts of making false statements plus an additional obstruction of justice charge for his 2003 grand jury testimony. His trial was delayed after U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco excluded some of the government's intended evidence, and a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments Sept. 17 on prosecutors' appeal.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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