WWW- A woman claiming to be Barry Bonds’ longtime girlfriend has been pulled into the BALCO investigation, another sign that the Giants star is under investigation for possible perjury or financial wrongdoing, as the Daily News first reported two weeks ago.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Kimberly Bell, who claims to have been Bonds’ extramarital girlfriend from 1994 to 2003 and is writing a book about their alleged relationship, had told the BALCO grand jury Thursday that Bonds had admitted using steroids. The paper cited “two sources familiar with an account of her testimony.”
Her testimony is believed to be be part of a case the federal government is pursuing against Bonds for perjury.
“Things look very bad for him right now,” a senior Major League Baseball official said yesterday.
Bell’s attorney also raised the possibility yesterday that Bonds could be investigated for either money laundering or tax evasion. “It’s clear from the subpoena that they are looking at Barry Bonds and the possibility he may have given untruthful testimony to the grand jury,” attorney Hugh Levine told the Chronicle. “And the case is being investigated by an IRS agent, and that speaks for itself.”
The 35-year-old Bell first aired her charges last month when she spoke to Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera.
Bonds told the grand jury in December 2003 that he had not knowingly taken any anabolic steroids or other illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Part of his testimony was overheard by The News, and a transcript was later leaked to the Chronicle.
After Bonds was left off the witness list for Thursday’s congressional hearings on steroid use in baseball, sources told The News he had been excluded because he was being investigated for perjury. Bonds’ BALCO testimony was designed to give him plausible deniability, but several attorneys who reviewed his testimony said he could be prosecuted for perjury if he indeed took steroids.
“I’ve seen people prosecuted for less,” U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told The News two weeks ago.
According to the Chronicle, Bell testified that Bonds had told her about his steroid use before the 2000 season, about the time his body began to undergo dramatic changes. Bell reportedly said Bonds was using a noninjectible form of the drug, which would be consistent with the use of THG, the designer steroid at the heart of the BALCO scandal.
The paper also said Bell had testified that Bonds then began to suffer baldness, acne and other physical changes consistent with steroid abuse. She also reportedly said she had never seen Bonds use drugs.
The source of the IRS’ interest in the case might have been .kindled from another tidbit Bell reportedly told the grand jury: Bonds would often take cash in exchange for sports memorabilia sales, sometimes giving her large amounts, including $80,000 in 2001 for a down payment on a house in Scottsdale, Ariz., near the Giants’ spring training facility. The government also subpoenaed Bell’s bank records, correspondence with Bonds and about 90 minutes of voice mail messages that she said Bonds had left on her answering machine, according to the Chronicle.
Michael Rains, Bonds’ attorney, said his client never had used banned substances and had never made big cash payments to Bell. He said he no grave concern, “none at all,” about the grand jury inquiry. The source of the dispute between Bell and Bonds was apparently money. Bell sought $100,000 from Bonds, but his attorney has accused her of attempted extortion.