December 2, 2004
BALCO Steroid Prosecution
The high-profile prosecution of four men linked to the Bay Area Lab Co-operative (BALCO), including the former personal trainer for Barry Bonds, made more headlines when the San Francisco Chronicle (Dec. 2) got a chance to review the grand jury testimony of Jason and Jeremy Giambi in which they admitted taking a variety of steroids. BALCO's founder, Victor Conte, and Greg Anderson, Bonds' former trainer, are accused of manufacturing and distributing anabolic steroids to a number of professional athletes (indictment here). The grand jury testimony of the Giambis discloses that the took different steroids by injection, orally, and by applying a cream. Jason Giambi, who is in the midst of a 7-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees, has suffered from a variety of health problems this past year and strongly denied that he ever took steroids. According to the article, "Giambi has publicly denied using performance-enhancing drugs, but his Dec. 11, 2003, testimony in the BALCO steroids case contradicts those statements, according to a transcript of the grand jury proceedings reviewed by The Chronicle."
The article does not disclose the source of the grand jury transcripts made available to the S.F. Chronicle. If the transcripts contain Brady material, they may have been disclosed to defense counsel, although there would be a protective order against disclosure of grand jury material. From the extensive quotes in the article, it is clear that the reporters had access to the actual transcripts and not just summaries.
At a hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 1, on defense motions to dismiss the charges for "outrageous government behavior" and to suppress evidence from searches, District Judge Susan Illston indicated that she would deny all the defense motions and set the case for trial in March 2005. One issue raised by Conte is whether statements he made to agents during the search--in which he apparently admitted to manufacturing steroids--should be suppressed because he was not given Miranda warnings when he did not believe he was free to leave. These claims are often made in white collar cases involving searches, and usually do not succeed. An article on ESPN.com reviews the hearing and notes that Conte will be interviewed on ABC Television in the near future. (ph)