Velarde testifies in Barry Bonds trial
SAN FRANCISCO -- As prosecutors moved closer to finishing their case against Barry Bonds, former major league infielder Randy Velarde described meeting the slugger's personal trainer outside spring training ballparks for injections of human growth hormone.
Velarde said he sought out Greg Anderson because of his link to Bonds, and they met "in various parking lots."
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"I can't remember each," Velarde said Wednesday during his 12 minutes of federal court testimony.
He wasn't sure exactly how many times he met Anderson. He was asked whether it was more than 10.
"That would be a fair number," he said.
And always, there would be an injection.
"Every meeting," he said.
Velarde became the fourth and likely final ballplayer to say he purchased performance-enhancing drugs from Anderson, who has been jailed for contempt after refusing to testify against Bonds, his childhood friend.
With Anderson unavailable, prosecutors called Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Marvin Benard and Velarde as witnesses to describe Anderson's drug-dealing -- an attempt to show jurors Bonds must have known the substances he was receiving from Anderson were performance-enhancing drugs. None of the players had personal knowledge of any drug use by Bonds.
Three more players were among the 50 potential witnesses on a list submitted to the court by prosecutors on March 7 -- 1987 NL Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago, Armando Rios and Bobby Estalella -- but Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew A. Parrella told U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on Wednesday that the government intended to call just three more witnesses.
His statement came as a surprise. Prosecutors said in the March 7 filing that Estalella would testify Bonds admitted to him that he used performance-enhancing drugs and they had several discussions about the subject.
Quinn: Inside the courtroom
When Allen Ruby starts his cross-examination with a witness, he always says the same thing: "Good morning, I'm Allen Ruby, one of the defense attornies for Barry Bonds. We have never met before, am I correct?" IRS Special Agent Michael Wilson, Jeff Novitzky's old boss, broke the mold by Wednesday morning, saying, "Actually, we have met." He said he had worked on a case years ago involving an "investment scheme," and that Ruby's client had been trying to recover money. Ruby's response: "Was that another IRS case that fell apart in court?" Even Wilson laghed, but not as hard as the defense.
The defense chips away at two areas every time it has a chance. The first is the chain of custody on the government's best piece of physical evidence -- an MLB drug test of Bonds that turned up positive when it was re-tested for THG ("the clear"). The defense seems to be trying to establish that the urine sample taken from Bonds in 2003 wasn't handled properly, trying to get that evidence tossed.
But that line of questioning also supports a theme Bonds' lawyers have laid out: the government has bent and broken rules in its zeal to nail Bonds. Even if jurors believe Bonds lied to the grand jury, it's possible some or all could vote to acquit because they think the government abused him. Juries can do that, and lawyers know it.
So while the government is trying to convince the jury that there's no way Bonds didn't know what drugs he received from Greg Anderson, the defense paints a picture that the government had Bonds in its sights from the start, that it took less-than-credible witnesses (ignoring their criminal behavior in some cases), and coached them to incriminate Bonds.
It seeps into everything. When defense attorney Cristina Arguedas addresses prosecutors, she's dismissive and contemptuous. Those who know Arguedas say it's no act: she genuinely despises what she sees as government abuse, and in this case she thinks the government went after Bonds for personal reasons
-- T.J. Quinn
Parrella said his final three witnesses would be Bonds' physician Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' former personal shopper Kathy Hoskins and former UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory head Dr. Don Catlin. After that, the defense can start calling its witnesses.
Benard finished testifying Wednesday morning and was followed by Velarde. Then came a current IRS special agent and a former one, along with six of the people who worked at the UCLA lab as it processed Bonds' 2003 drug test. Giving often tedious testimony, the eight established the chain of evidence for the jury of Bonds' urine from the time federal agents seized it from Quest Diagnostics in April 2004 until the time it tested positive for the steroid Tetrahydrogestrinone (TGH) in March 2006.
After just five witnesses appeared in the first four days of testimony, the trial's pace has increased. Five witnesses finished their testimony on Tuesday and 10 more completed their questioning on Wednesday.
With prosecutors planning to read portions of Bonds' grand jury testimony to the jury, the government's presentation is likely to wrap up by early next week. Thursday's session will be cut short because Illston will leave to attend the swearing in of a judge late in the day. After that, the trial resumes Monday.
Bonds, baseball's season and career home run king, is charged with four counts of lying and one count of obstruction for telling a grand jury in 2003 that he didn't knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs. Wearing a blue suit and blue tie, he took notes and conferred with lead lawyer Allen Ruby during a day filled with science, such as explanations of how an isotope-ratio mass spectrometer works and the difference between carbon-12 and carbon-13.
"I think we are all feeling a little obtuse right now," Illston said late in the day.
Velarde played mostly for the Yankees but also for the Angels and Athletics in a major league career from 1987 to 2002. He met Anderson in 2001 through Estalella, who split that year between Bonds' Giants and the Yankees.
"He mentioned to me he could get some stuff through Greg and gave me his name and number," Velarde said.
Anderson at first sent Velarde some pills, but the player felt they weren't benefiting him.
He then switched to injections and said after them he felt he had more endurance and strength. He paid Anderson $500 to $800.
At the start of the morning, Ruby cross-examined Benard and tried to imply Benard didn't know that substances Anderson gave him called the "clear" and the "cream" were steroids. Bonds told the grand jury Anderson told him they were "flaxseed oil" and arthritic balm.
Benard admitted he met with the prosecution when he arrived in San Francisco this week from his home in Washington State.
"At this meeting you had with these prosecutors, they told you they wanted you to say that Anderson told you he was giving you a steroid, an undetectable steroid," Ruby said.
Benard said prosecutors reviewed his grand jury testimony with them.
"They showed me what I said earlier, when my memory was clearer," Benard said.
"Isn't it true, Mr. Benard, that you were asked many times at the grand jury what Anderson said to you about this new material he was giving you and you never said that he had called it an undetectable steroid?" Ruby asked.
"You got a better idea of what I said in there than I do," Benard told him.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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