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March 24, 2008

A notable perjury trial with sentencing advice for Bonds, Clemens and others

The San Francisco Chronicle has this interesting article about the start of a nother notable steroid-perjury trial in federal court.  As detailed in this excerpt, the trial has a lot of impact on various sentencing issues:

Caught up in the BALCO steroids scandal, an elite athlete adamantly denies using banned drugs, then mounts an aggressive defense to a perjury indictment. It sounds like the case of former Giants slugger Barry Bonds, accused of lying under oath to the federal grand jury that investigated Burlingame's Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroid ring in 2003.

Instead, starting today in federal court in San Francisco, a lesser-known American sports champion — Tammy Thomas, a onetime star of bicycle track racing — goes on trial, charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.  Her case is of interest because it amounts to a dress rehearsal for the trial of Bonds, which may get under way later this year....

Whatever her defense, Thomas is taking a big gamble by refusing a plea bargain and going to trial, said New York criminal defense specialist Patrick Mullin, an expert on federal sentencing guidelines. Up to now, eight people indicted in connection with BALCO have pleaded guilty to reduced charges rather than go to trial. The longest sentence was six months, imposed on Olympic track superstar Marion Jones, who confessed to lying to federal agents about her use of banned drugs and about her participation in a check-fraud scheme.

But if Thomas goes to trial and is convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury, she could face 30 months in federal prison, Mullin said.  Mullin said Thomas may have decided to gamble on a trial because she knows that if she pleaded guilty to lying under oath she might be legally barred from obtaining a license to practice law. "If she's going to law school, that would give you pause," he said.

March 24, 2008 at 07:54 AM | Permalink


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