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Charges against Barry Bonds dismissed

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on Thursday dismissed the three remaining charges against Barry Bonds, as requested by the government.

The U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco filed papers Wednesday informing Illston it was dismissing the three charges of making false statements. A jury deadlocked on the three counts at Bonds' trial in April.

The deadline for prosecutors to start the process for a retrial on those charges was about 30 days away. The move allows Bonds' sentencing in December to proceed, but it also gives the government greater flexibility to re-indict bonds at a later date if they don't feel the sentence is sufficient -- they're expected to seek jail time.

They also may use the leverage to strike a deal: If bonds agrees not to appeal his obstruction conviction, the government could have the charges dismissed permanently or agree not to re-file.

Bonds was initially charged in November 2007 with lying to the grand jury during a December 2003 appearance when he testified that his personal trainer misled him into believing the designer steroids and performance enhancing drugs he was taking were legal supplements.

A majority of jurors this year voted to acquit him on charges he lied when he denied knowingly taking steroids and human growth hormone. The jurors voted 11-1 to convict him for denying that anyone other than his doctor ever injected him.

Bonds faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, though federal guidelines recommend a sentence of 15 to 21 months.

Illston, who upheld the obstruction count last Friday, also is free to impose a lesser sentence, which she did after two previous trials involving a champion cyclist and track coach each convicted of lying in cases that grew out of the BALCO probe. Cyclist Tammy Thomas and track coach Trevor Graham each received sentences of house arrest.