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Bonds avoids prison sentence

SAN FRANCISCO — Eight years of being investigated for steroid allegations ended Friday for home run king Barry Bonds with a 30-day sentence to be served at his Beverly Hills home.

No more — and maybe less.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston immediately delayed imposing the sentence while Bonds appeals his obstruction of justice conviction. The former baseball star was found guilty in April not of using steroids, but of misleading grand jurors.

Even without prison time, the case has left its mark on the seven-time National League MVP. His 762 career home runs, including 73 in 2001, may forever be seen as tainted records, and his ticket to baseball's Hall of Fame is in doubt.

Bonds declined to speak in court. Well-wishers hugged the 47-year-old in the hallway courtroom after the hearing, and a smattering of fans cheered him as he left the courthouse. It was a marked departure from his initial court appearance four years ago, when guards had to clear a path for Bonds to get through dozens of onlookers to his SUV.

"Whatever he did or didn't do, we all lie," said Esther Picazo, a fan outside the courthouse. "We all make mistakes. But I don't think he should've gotten any kind of punishment at all."

Bonds was sentenced to two years of probation, 250 hours of community service, a $4,000 fine and 30 days of home confinement. It will take time to determine whether he serves any of it; his appellate specialist, Dennis Riordan, estimated it would take nearly a year and a half for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella called the sentence a "slap on the wrist" and the fine "almost laughable" for the former Giants and Pirates star who made more than $192 million for playing baseball.

Parrella had sought 15 months in prison and argued that home confinement wasn't punishment enough "for a man with a 15,000-square-foot house with all the advantages.

"The defendant basically lived a double life for decades before this," Parrella said. He ripped Bonds not only over performance-enhancing drugs but his personal life: "He had mistresses throughout his marriages."

Illston said none of that had any bearing on Bonds' sentencing.

She said she agreed with a probation department report that called Bonds' conviction an "aberration" in his life. She said she received dozens of letters in support of Bonds.

Bonds is the last — and most high-profile — defendant in the government's investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, a steroids distribution ring. The ex-slugger has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Besides Bonds, 10 people were convicted of various charges in BALCO cases. Six of them, including track star Marion Jones, were ensnared for lying to grand jurors, federal investigators or the court. Others, including Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson, pleaded guilty to steroid distribution charges.

BEATEN FAN ON CAMERA: The Giants fan nearly beaten to death on opening day has spoken on camera for the first time since the attack. In a clip aired on San Francisco's NBC affiliate, Bryan Stow, 42, spoke to Dr. Nancy Snyder­man of Rock Center. The news magazine show will air a report on Stow's recovery Monday night at 10 (Ch. 8). The paramedic and father of two spent months in a medically induced coma after being beaten outside Dodger Stadium in March.

CARDINALS: Left-handed reliever J.C. Romero agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract.

CUBS: Manager Dale Sveum unveiled his coaching staff, bringing in former teammate Chris Bosio to be in charge of the pitchers and Jamie Quirk to be his bench coach.

INDIANS: Needing to add depth to an outfield ravaged by injuries in 2011, the club got Aaron Cunningham from San Diego in a trade and signed free agent Felix Pie. The team also signed versatile free agent infielder Jose Lopez. The Padres got minor-league pitcher Cory Burns, who spent last season at Double-A Akron, for Cunningham.

NATIONALS: Former Astros outfielder Jason Michaels signed a minor-league deal.

ROCKIES: Free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer agreed to a three-year deal for about $30 million. CBS and the Denver Post first reported the deal.

TIGERS: Reliever Al Alburquerque is likely to miss the first half of next season after surgery in which a screw was inserted into his right (pitching) elbow.

TWINS: Bill Smith, recently fired as general manager, agreed to stay as an assistant to successor Terry Ryan and team president Dave St. Peter.

Bonds avoids prison sentence 12/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 16, 2011 10:03pm]
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