|BALCO figures want to keep sealed documents|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 26 November 2007 17:26|
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston on Sept. 11 ordered the four to return or destroy the documents they received after they were charged in 2004 with operating a steroids ring centered at the now-defunct Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
Federal prosecutors, who requested the order, argue that since all four men - including convicted steroids dealer Victor Conte, BALCO executive James Valente and former track coach Remi Korchemny - ultimately pleaded guilty, they no longer need the documents. The papers include other athletes' grand jury testimony and search warrants used to raid BALCO and Anderson's house in 2003.
But the attorneys for the men argue that many of the documents are beyond their control, having been leaked to the media or voluntarily turned over to federal lawmakers and Greek government officials conducting steroid probes of their own.
The 2006 book ``Game of Shadows,'' written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters recounting Bonds' alleged steroid use, is based mostly on grand jury transcripts and other confidential court documents leaked by former attorney Troy Ellerman.
Ellerman, who represented Valente, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after confessing he was the authors' source.
In court papers filed Monday, the four BALCO figures said they fear prosecution based on Illston's order if the sealed documents are leaked again.
The lawyers for the men wrote that ``the documents in question, namely grand jury transcripts and search warrant affidavits, have long since been disseminated to media and are in the hands of journalists, prosecutors and investigators around the world.''
The document said that Anderson fears a return to prison if the judge's order remains in effect because the government will accuse him of any future leaks.
Anderson spent a little more than a year in prison for refusing to testify against Bonds, who was charged earlier this month with perjury. Anderson was released from prison Nov. 15, the same day Bonds was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.
``As the recent indictment of Mr. Bonds makes clear, the government was perfectly able to bring perjury and obstruction charges against him without Mr. Anderson's testimony,'' lawyer Mary McNamara wrote for the four BALCO figures. ``In light of the government's aggressive and apparently unnecessary pursuit of Mr. Anderson, he too has good cause to fear accusations of violating this court's orders when more of the sealed material is published.''
For his part, Conte said he doesn't want his offices and home raided for a third time if another leak of sensitive documents occur. Federal investigators initially raided BALCO in 2003 and seized numerous documents - including two positive steroid tests of Bonds' blood, prosecutors say - and other evidence linking dozens of athletes to steroid use. In 2005, authorities raided his home in search of evidence that he had leaked grand jury testimony to the Chronicle.
``Mr. Conte was the target of an armed FBI raid of his home, the publication of the government's unfounded suspicions that he was the leaker ... and the stress, cost and intimidation of a full-scale government criminal investigation,'' the court papers state.
The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco declined comment.