Report: Bonds friend is key witness against him

One of Barry Bonds' longtime friends is a key witness against him as the federal government ponders perjury or tax-evasion charges against the San Francisco Giants slugger, Bonds' lawyer told The New York Times.

Michael Rains, Bonds' lawyer, said memorabilia salesman Steve Hoskins, a longtime friend of Bonds, and Kimberly Bell, Bonds' former girlfriend who has twice testified against him before a grand jury, are the government's two main witnesses.

The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that Major League Baseball officials expect Bonds to be indicted on perjury and tax evasion charges.

Though the officials told the Daily News they have no inside knowledge of the grand jury's proceedings, they said they expect an indictment as early as next week, as the grand jury that has been hearing evidence against Bonds in San Francisco is due to expire in the next few weeks.

Baseball sources also told the Daily News they conducted their own investigation into Bonds last year and found evidence of wrongdoing.

Hoskins and Bonds sold Bonds' sports equipment and collectible lithographs through Hoskins' company.

Rains told The Times that Bonds went to the federal government in June 2002 to complain that Hoskins was forging his name and stealing from him. The government then "turned around and used" Hoskins as an informant, Rains told the newspaper.

Hoskins' attorney, Michael Cardoza, disputed Rains' assertion to The Times, however.

"We made no deal with the feds," Cardoza told The Times. "We cut no deal with anybody. All we did was tell the truth and protect Steve and prove to them that Barry is not a truth-teller." Cardoza wouldn't tell The Times whether his client was called to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds.

Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was held in contempt of court last week and taken to prison for refusing to testify to the grand jury. Anderson served three months in prison last year after pleading guilty for his role in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroid scandal.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.