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Bonds in limbo, trainer to be freed as jury expires

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' personal trainer was set to be
released from prison Thursday, his attorney said, the same day the
term of the grand jury investigating the baseball star was to
expire.

It was unclear if Greg Anderson's expected release would have
any bearing on whether indictments were handed up against Bonds. He
was being investigated for possible perjury and tax evasion.

"I think something could happen tomorrow," Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, told Reuters. "What I see happening tomorrow is maybe the U.S. attorney will tell the public what has happened in this case."

"Theoretically if the grand jury is convened tomorrow for their last day, there could be a situation where they could submit to the grand jurors for signature an indictment," he continued. But "even if it is signed tomorrow they may hold it for a matter of a few days."

Attorney Mark Geragos told The Associated Press late Wednesday
that he was certain Anderson would be released from jail at noon
Thursday. Geragos declined to say how he knew it.

Anderson was held in civil contempt and sent to federal prison
earlier this month for refusing to testify to the grand jury
investigating Bonds. Anderson was to be held until he agreed to
testify or the term of the grand jury expired. Geragos has said in
the past that his client would not testify.

Prosecutors could choose to impanel a new grand jury after the
current one expires Thursday, meaning Anderson's status could be in
jeopardy again.

Anderson likely holds the key to whether perjury charges could
stick against Bonds, who testified in 2003 that he thought
substances given to him by the trainer were arthritis balm and
flaxseed oil.

Authorities suspected Bonds was lying and that those items were
"the clear" and "the cream" -- two performance-enhancing drugs
tied to the BALCO, the lab exposed as a steroids supplier to top
athletes in baseball, track and other sports.

"Obviously, they think they need Greg to prove perjury,"
Geragos said.

Rains and others say the federal grand jury's term expires on Thursday, timing that points to action then if the grand jury believes there is a criminal case against Bonds.

Rains has said Bonds received immunity for his 2003 grand jury appearance, yet witnesses can face perjury charges if they are accused of not testifying truthfully.

Perjury, which is knowingly lying in a judicial proceeding while under oath, is often difficult to prove and is prosecuted relatively infrequently, legal experts say. The crime carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Allegations of steroid use long have plagued Bonds, who passed
Babe Ruth in May to become second only to Hank Aaron on the career
home run list. They intensified in late 2003, when he testified
before the original Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative grand jury,
which took testimony from about two dozen athletes.

Without the trainer's help, prosecutors still could indict Bonds
on charges alleging he failed to pay taxes on money made through
sales of autographs and other memorabilia.

"There is nothing about what is going on that suggests to me that there is a tax case here," Rains said. "I think that the reports that have been out there notwithstanding, this is not a tax evasion case.

"There would be signs and symptoms I would be able to read if they were going down that route."

They also could seek to
extend the grand jury's term to put more pressure on Anderson to
cooperate, or convene a new panel and put Anderson back in jail.
There's also the chance Bonds might be indicted on perjury charges
without Anderson's testimony.

"I don't think Barry has violated any laws. Under our system,
if the government is going to point a finger at him, the government
better be well prepared to," said Rains.
"I will do everything in my power to make sure that Barry gets a
tenacious and effective defense."

Federal prosecutors declined to comment Wednesday.

Anderson was one of five men convicted in the steroids scandal
surrounding BALCO. He was sentenced to three months behind bars and
three months of home confinement in October after pleading guilty
to money laundering and steroid distribution.

He was found in contempt of court and jailed again July 5 for
refusing to testify in the Bonds probe.

Federal prosecutors say they need Anderson, in part, to
interpret calendars that seem to spell out Bonds' schedule for
using performance-enhancing drugs. The calendars were seized by
investigators from Anderson's house in 2003.

Geragos says Anderson must be released when the grand jury's
term expires Thursday, even if prosecutors succeed in extending the
panel's investigation.

But former federal prosecutors said authorities likely will try
to keep him locked up.

"That's simply because he hasn't served that much time in
jail," said Jonathan Howden, who left the U.S. Attorney's office
earlier this year after 25 years as a prosecutor. "Under normal
circumstances, the judge would find that he is still lawfully
subject to the contempt order."

Separately, Geragos has launched an effort to get his client
freed based on a tape-recorded conversation that Geragos says was
made illegally in the spring of 2003 by government investigators.
On the tape, Anderson allegedly discusses Bonds' illegal drug use
with an unidentified athlete.

"Mr. Anderson allegedly makes numerous remarks regarding
baseball's steroids testing, Barry Bonds' use of an undetectable
performance-enhancing drug to beat drug tests, and Mr. Anderson's
own alleged steroid use," Geragos said in a court filing.

Geragos is demanding that the government disclose the contents
of that tape. He suspects they won't and says it's illegal for
Anderson to remain in prison because he won't testify about
information the government allegedly obtained without a warrant.

"They have to turn over the tape or let Greg out," Geragos
said.

A decision on that argument is expected soon from the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals.

Former federal prosecutors said Anderson faces long odds with
that argument because grand jury witnesses aren't entitled to see
the government's evidence before they testify, except on rare
occasions.

Geragos argued this is such an occasion, because he says the
tape Anderson's acquaintance made is an illegal wiretap. If the
appeals court agrees, then Anderson would not have to testify,
according to Geragos.

That scenario could jeopardize the government's perjury
investigation, he added.

As for Bonds, he singled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning on Wednesday afternoon, starting a rally that won the game for his San Francisco Giants. Fans chanted: "Barry, Barry" as he arrived in the on-deck circle and he was cheered when he got the hit.

In the locker room after the game, Bonds initially watched television for a few minutes and then would only answer reporters' question about baseball. He declined to speak about his legal situation.

"His spirits have generally been good," Rains said. "He is certainly very, very much aware of the swarm of controversy going around this thing and I can't help but think it affects him off the field."

Rains said federal investigators had not responded to his request to have talks before any possible indictment.


Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.