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Probing how paper got testimony

6/28/2004

SAN FRANCISCO -- A judge on Friday ordered federal
prosecutors to investigate whether the government leaked grand jury
transcripts in which sprinter Tim Montgomery testified he used
performance-enhancing drugs.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, presiding over the case of
four men accused of distributing steroids, demanded that the men's
defense attorneys and their clients also sign sworn declarations
that they did not illegally release the transcripts to the San
Francisco Chronicle, which published some of Montgomery's testimony
Thursday.

"I'm curious to know how that got there," Illston said during
a fiery hearing in which prosecutors and defense lawyers pointed
fingers at one another.

Prosecutor Jeff Nedrow said he did not believe the government
divulged Montgomery's testimony. Before about a dozen defense
attorneys, Nedrow told Illston that "the universe of people who
have gotten the transcripts are standing before you."

An outraged Tony Serra, who is defending Greg Anderson, Barry
Bonds' trainer and one of the four indicted by a grand jury, said
he was "absolutely sure" defense attorneys did not breach
Illston's protective order.

"The motive or the prejudice lies with the prosecution," he
added.

The Chronicle did not report where it obtained what it
published.

Montgomery, the world's fastest man, testified he used human
growth hormone and a then-undetectable steroid, and that the Bay
Area Laboratory Co-Operative's founder, Victor Conte, told him he
gave Bonds, the San Francisco Giant's slugger,
performance-enhancers, according to the Chronicle. The newspaper's
report included direct quotes from Montgomery's testimony.

Conte is among the four charged with illegally distributing
steroids. The others indicted are BALCO vice president James
Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny. All four men have pleaded
not guilty.

Outside court after Friday's hearing, Conte sought to set the
record straight on his interactions with Bonds.

"Let the world know that I have never given anabolic steroids
or any other performance enhancing drug to Barry Bonds," Conte
told reports.

Bonds, Montgomery and other athletes testified last fall before
the grand jury that ultimately indicted the four men.

It is illegal to give grand jury testimony to the media, and
Illston could sanction those responsible for disclosing the
testimony, which was released to the government and the four men's
defense attorneys under an order that it not be revealed.

Montgomery was one of several sprinters who received a letter
from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency warning they face punishment for
alleged steroid use. The maximum punishment could be lifetime bans
from the sport.

Bonds has publicly denied using any performance-enhancing drugs.
Montgomery's attorney, Cristina Arguedas, declined to respond to
what she described as "blind allegations."

Illston ordered the government and defense attorneys to return
to court July 16. No trial date has been set for the four men.

The case is United States v. Conte, 04-0044.