Agents, lab techs testify at Bonds trial

Agents, lab techs testify at Bonds trial

Agents, lab techs testify at Bonds trial
SAN FRANCISCO -- On the seventh day of the Barry Bonds perjury trial, the prosecution brought out federal agents and a line of witnesses from the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, who testified as to the chain of custody and contents of two urine samples seized in a 2004 raid of a Quest Diagnostics facility in Las Vegas.

After former Major League players Marvin Benard and Randy Velarde took the stand Wednesday morning, the remainder of the day included oftentimes technical detail about how the urine samples were passed from the government to the UCLA lab and how they were handled and tested from there.

The samples, which were part of the 2003 "survey" testing performed by Major League Baseball on players to determine the extend of performance-enhancing drug use in the game at the time, are said by the government to be from Bonds. The UCLA technicians testified that one of the samples in question tested positive for the synthetic steroid THG, exogenous testosterone (or testosterone not produced by the body) as well as the female fertility drug clomiphene, known to be used to "jump-start" a steroid user's own creation of testosterone.

Bonds is standing trial on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, charges based on his testimony before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) grand jury in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

When the trial continues Thursday, in a scheduled shorter day of proceedings ordered by Judge Susan Illston, the prosecution is expected to call, time permitting, what is understood to be their final three witnesses: Kathy Hoskins, Bonds' former personal shopper; Don Catlin, director of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory; and Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' orthopedic surgeon. Also, Bonds' grand-jury testimony, which is at the heart of the perjury case, will be read to the jury before the prosecution rests its case.

The early part of Wednesday's testimony included the end of the cross-examination of Benard, with defense attorney Allen Ruby asking Benard whether he had changed the wording of his testimony between the Bonds grand jury in 2006 and what he was saying on the stand in trial, suggesting the prosecution coached him in a Monday meeting with the government.

"At this meeting, they told you, didn't they, that they wanted you to say it was an undetectable steroid," Ruby asked, to which Benard said, "No." Through reading of the grand-jury testimony, it was shown Benard did not use that wording then, calling it "stuff," but did use the wording during trial.

Velarde, who played in the Majors for 16 seasons for the Yankees, Angels, A's and Rangers from 1987-2002, then testified that he received human growth hormone from trainer Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer and one of the central targets of the BALCO investigation. Velarde, who said he met Anderson through former Giants and Yankees outfielder Bobby Estalella, testified to being injected by Anderson with human growth hormone when they'd meet in various parking lots at Spring Training in 2002.

Special Internal Revenue Service agent Mike Wilson then took the stand, describing on direct examination the process by which he led the seizure of urine samples from Quest in Las Vegas on April 8, 2004. Upon seizing five sets of two samples, he put them in evidence bags, which he took with him to his hotel room and then carried on the plane back to San Jose, Calif., where he is based, in his garment bag. He then handed them over to his supervisor, Ana Geter, who later described the chain of custody from there, including how she delivered the specimens to the UCLA lab.

Ruby went on the attack on Wilson regarding whether the way he seized and transported the specimens were correct protocol. Wilson said he didn't know of a specific IRS rule on the proper procedure for such seizures.

"Are you telling us in all of your career ... no one from the IRS has taught or instructed agents that if we get evidence in a case, here's what we're supposed to do?" Said Wilson: "I can't give you a specific answer to that."

The rest of the day included testimony from UCLA lab scientists Brian Bishop, Yvonne Chambers, Stephen Kauffman, Brian Ahrens, Todd McGauley and Borislav Starcevic, who went step by step through the chain of custody and testing process for the samples provided by the government.

One of a few occasions that has elicited laughter in the courtroom came at the beginning of Ruby's cross-examination of Wilson, as Wilson responded to Ruby's perfunctory question of whether they had met previously by saying he might have seen Ruby working a trial involving an investment scheme years earlier in San Jose.

"Was that another IRS case that fell apart in court?" Ruby quipped.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.