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November 15, 2007

Barry Bonds indicted, what would be his guideline range?

Just when you thought it was safe to read the sports pages without having to think about sentencing issues.... Today, as detailed in this AP story, "Barry Bonds was indicted Thursday for perjury and obstruction of justice, charged with lying when he told a federal grand jury that he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs."

I have already gotten a call from the media asking what sort of sentence Bonds might face, so I'd appreciate reader help in figuring out what federal sentencing guideline range would apply were the modern Home Run King convicted of all the allegations in the indictment.  Of course, before doing any of this analysis, I could not help but think about the sentences that Victor Rita and I. Lewis Libby received for lying to a grand jury.  Specifically, Rita got a 33-month (within-guideline) sentence for his lies and his sentence was affirmed as reasonable by the Supreme Court.  Libby got a 30 month (within-guideline) sentence for his lies and his entire prison term was commuted by President Bush.

UPDATE:  Here is the New York Times coverage of the indictement, as well as a link here to the indictment itself.

November 15, 2007 at 05:59 PM | Permalink


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Both 2J1.3 (perjury) and 2J1.3 (obstruction of justice) call for a base offense level of 14, with a three-level adjustment "[i]f the offense resulted in substantial interference with the administration of justice." Given the context in which Bonds's statements were made, I think the enhancement applies, giving Bonds an offense level of 17 on each count.

All five counts (four for perjury, and one for obstruction of justice) would be grouped together under 3D1.2.

With an offense level of 17 and criminal history category of 0 (which I assume is correct), Bonds would have an guideline range of 24-30 months.

These calculations are under the current guidelines, but I just checked, and the 11/03 guidelines (the version applicable at the time of the alleged offenses) yield the same result.

Posted by: Bob | Nov 15, 2007 6:36:05 PM

Higher - once the judge relies on uncharged conduct. That is, he is a real jerk.

Posted by: Dave | Nov 15, 2007 6:44:39 PM

I think the comments above are correct, but they overlook the possibility of an enhancement under 2X3.1, if the court were to find that Bonds's obstruction/perjury were in respect to a criminal offense. Victor Rita and Scooter Libby know all too well the impact of the cross-reference, since both received an adjustment under 2X3.1. In commuting the prison sentence, President Bush himself remarked on the fact that Libby's sentence was driven in part by allegations never proven to a jury.

Also, the question of which guidelines manual would apply might be an interesting one if a cross-reference applies since I believe the guidelines for steroid distribution (and related offenses) have been heightened in the past few years. I know that the Sixth and Seventh Circuits have decided that applying the manual at the time of sentencing (even if harsher) creates no Ex Post Facto problems.

Posted by: Gogigantes | Nov 15, 2007 6:45:54 PM

With everthing going on the world milk prices, Gas prices, people struggling. This is what the DOJ spends it time on. Do you think they are trying to make the world a safer place. What a waste of time and waste of money. It just shows a dept out of control. There a bigger issues we should worry about. Bigger than Barry Bonds. Put another mark on the worst president in the history of the country,

Posted by: | Nov 15, 2007 7:14:51 PM

Hasn't Bonds had some tax problems in the past? Or we sure he doesn't have some guilty pleas in his past?

Posted by: Doug | Nov 15, 2007 8:54:11 PM

"Or we sure" = "Are we sure"

Posted by: Doug | Nov 15, 2007 11:39:53 PM

Gogigantes: The USSC has given luke-warm acceptence to the ex-post facto problem of increased punishment in the guidelines in effect at sentencing vs. the guidelines at the time of commission. Look at note 2 under 1B1.11.

Posted by: dweedle | Nov 16, 2007 1:13:24 PM

So just how important is it to tell the truth?

As a motivational speaker, I was recently speaking to a group of high school students about the importance of telling the truth and making the right choices. What qualified me to make this presentation - personal experience…perhaps one of the best teachers in life. Having spent time in Federal prison for making unethical decisions, I know first hand the impact that choices have in our life. I am not proud of those decisions, but, likewise, refuse to hide the fact that I made them and that the impact they had on my life were - well - life changing. http://www.chuckgallagher.com

As reported in the Wall Street Journal law blog, MLB’s home run hitter Barry Bonds has been indicted for - well simply put - “lying!” http://blogs.wsj.com/law/

The post in the WSJ Blog states: “Bonds joins a line of individuals stretching from Alger Hiss to Martha Stewart to Scooter Libby to who were indicted not for commiting an underlying crime, but for lying to investigators. Each time this happens, critics argue that a perjury prosecution is nothing more than an excuse for overzealous prosecutors to bring a headline-grabbing case against a boldfaced name. On the other hand, in pursuing such well-known figures, the feds hope to send a message to the meek and mighty alike: Don’t lie.”

I couldn’t agree more. Whether Bonds is convicted like Martha Stewart or not…the fact remains that the consequences of lying can have dramatic, life-changing effects. Take it from one who knows, “Club Fed” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s prison and no one I know wants to be there.

I routinely speak to business groups and associations on ethics, choices, consequences and their total effect. Every choice has a consequence - and the sooner we recognize that telling the truth is a choice the quicker we control the type of consequences we face. I personally perfer ”positive results” from the choices I make.

Posted by: Chuck Gallagher | Nov 16, 2007 10:06:10 PM

A link to a calculation of his guidelines:


Posted by: Norm Pattis | Nov 23, 2007 3:09:27 PM

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