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Former Barry Bonds aide testifies that he worried about the slugger's alleged steroid use

Steve Hoskins says he secretly recorded Bonds' trainer and doctor in hopes of obtaining evidence of steroid use. He also admits to making those recordings as his ties to Bonds were fraying.

March 24, 2011|By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
  • Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds leaves the courthouse after a former family friend and business associate testified against him in a federal perjury trial.
Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds leaves the courthouse… (Kyle Terada, U.S. Presswire )

Reporting from San Francisco — A key prosecution witness in the federal trial of Barry Bonds testified Wednesday that he was so worried about Bonds' health that he secretly recorded Bonds' trainer in hopes that the slugger's father would realize his son was taking steroids and get him to stop.

But under cross-examination a few hours later, the witness admitted he made the recording at the time Bonds ended a lucrative business association with him — a break that cost the witness money and moved Bonds to accuse him of fraud.

Steve Hoskins, a family friend who grew up with Bonds, was called by the prosecution to demonstrate that the former San Francisco Giants home run king lied when he told a grand jury in December 2003 that he never knowingly used steroids.

Bonds paid Hoskins to do errands for him, including bringing his equipment to the ballpark, and helped Hoskins with a sports memorabilia business. Bonds' lawyers said he eventually discovered that Hoskins was forging his name on contracts and severed the business relationship in March 2003.

Under questioning by a prosecutor, Hoskins told the jury that Bonds asked him to research the side effects of steroids in 1999. Hoskins also said he saw Bonds and his trainer enter a bedroom during spring training of 2000 and the trainer emerge with a syringe — a situation that Hoskins said he witnessed more than once in the early 2000s.

Bonds often complained he was sore from steroid injections, Hoskins testified, and he urged the player to stop using the drugs.

Hoskins also testified in front of the predominantly female jury that Bonds had two girlfriends, one on each coast, and that they met with Bonds during spring training, which the player's wife and children also attended. Hoskins said he gave the girlfriends thousands of dollars at Bonds' request from time to time.

Hoskins told jurors he met with Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, in the Giants clubhouse in 2003 to get evidence to show Bonds' father that his son was using steroids. Anderson discussed ways to inject performance-enhancing drugs and strongly implied he was injecting Bonds. Hoskins had a recorder hidden in his jacket pocket. He testified that he never gave the recording to Bobby Bonds, also a former Giants player, because the older man became ill and died that year.

But under questioning by Allen Ruby, Bonds' lead defense lawyer, Hoskins acknowledged that his relationship with Bonds was fraying at the time that he made the recording. Ruby also replayed a fuzzy recording of the conversation that he said referred to a sports record that hadn't been made until months after Bonds had severed business ties with Hoskins. Bonds also had gone to the FBI to complain that Hoskins was engaged in fraudulent business practices.

Hoskins admitted that he recorded two other associates of Bonds, including Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' physician. That recording occurred after federal agents raided Anderson's home on Sept. 3, 2003, when their investigation of a Bay Area laboratory that sold undetectable steroids to professional athletes became public. Hoskins testified that he did not know what happened to the tape of Ting.

"You recorded Dr. Ting to gather information you could use to extort Barry, isn't that true?" Ruby asked.

"No," Hoskins replied.

Hoskins, who frequently said he could not remember dates, testified that he believed he became aware of Bonds' charges against him to the FBI in September 2003.

Hoskins was never charged in the case.

When Ruby read a grand jury transcript that quoted Hoskins saying the federal government had never even investigated Bonds' charges, Hoskins said the stenographer had misquoted him.

The defense attorney also elicited testimony that indicated Bonds' prosecutors were involved in what was supposed to have been an entirely separate probe of Hoskins' allegedly fraudulent business practices.

Bonds' trial opened Monday and is expected to last three to four weeks. Anderson was taken into custody Tuesday for refusing to testify as a prosecution witness.

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