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Bonds defense recommends probation

With a sentencing date of Dec. 16 approaching for Barry Bonds, his defense team on Tuesday submitted a recommendation of probation for his April conviction on one charge of obstructing justice.

The memorandum, signed by lead defense attorney Allen Ruby, cited a Presentence Investigation Report conducted by federal probation officers as saying that Bonds' conviction appears to be "an aberration when taken in context of his entire life." The defense papers say the federal probation department recommended probation, location monitoring and community service for Bonds in lieu of imprisonment.

Judge Susan Illston will impose sentencing Dec. 16 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The government is expected to file a similar memorandum with its recommendations in the coming days.

A seven-time Most Valuable Player who set the single-season and career home run records during his 22-year career, Bonds was convicted of obstruction, but the jury could not come to a consensus on any of three counts of making false declarations. The charges are based on Bonds' 2003 testimony before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) grand jury, in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

According to the indictment against Bonds, the maximum penalty for the obstruction charge is "10 years maximum imprisonment, $250,000 fine, three years supervised release, $100 special assessment fee." But federal sentencing guidelines suggest 15-21 months, and previous BALCO sentences indicate Bonds at most would be given house arrest.

Illston, who has presided over the cases brought by the BALCO investigation, previously sentenced cyclist Tammy Thomas to six months of home confinement and track coach Trevor Graham to one year of home confinement. Thomas was convicted of three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice but was acquitted of two perjury charges. Graham was convicted of one count of giving false statements, and the jury deadlocked on two other charges.

The defense memorandum filed Tuesday cited those sentences, noting that Thomas was found guilty of more charges and Graham's sentencing recommendation noted that he had not only obstructed justice but had distributed drugs to athletes and lied about it, making "his case very serious."

The defense also pointed out that Bonds' past efforts in community service should be a factor in sentencing, saying the probation report cited his "significant history of charitable, civic and prior good works."

John Schlegel is a national reporter for