By: E&P Staff
The San Francisco Chronicle reporters who are refusing to testify about their sources in the federal BALCO investigation say the jailing Wednesday of slugger Barry Bonds’ trainer for refusing to testify has not heightened their concerns about possibly going to jail.
Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, who first broke the stories of Bonds’ steroid use via leaked Grand Jury testimony in 2004, said they have a better legal defense to avoid testifying than Greg Anderson, Bonds’ trainer. Anderson, who served three months in jail already on money laundering and steroid distribution charges, went back to the slammer Wednesday after refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating possible perjury charges against Bonds.
“Our situation is not the same because we have a big First Amendment issue,” said Williams. “I think we are on a different track, a different grand juty an a different judge.” Fainaru-Wada agreed. “I’m no lawyer, but I think the two cases are unconnected,” he said. “I wouldn’t presume one has any effect on the other.”
But Fainaru-Wada admitted that the jailing of Anderson does indicated a serious effort on the part of the investigators to hold all of those involved accountable. “I though it was a pretty remarkable turn for this story, that they have reached a point where they will put a guy back in jail to pursue the case,” he said. “I think it was pretty amazing.”
Anderson’s jailing represents the first time a witness has been ordered to jail for refusing to testify in the steroid investigation, which dates back to 2003 when the first raid of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative occurred. Since then, the investigation has resulted in the conviction of Anderson and others, while Williams and Fainaru-Wada have been subpoenaed to testify in a related grand jury investigation seeking to find out who leaked the previous grand jury testimony to the reporters.
An Aug. 4 hearing has been set in Federal District court in San Francisco to determine if Williams and Fainaru-Wada will be compelled to testify or face jail. Attorneys for Hearst Newspapers, which owns the Chronicle, have filed a motion to quash the subpoenas.
“I feel okay, I think we have a great case,” William said, noting that, unlike Anderson, he and Fainaru-Wada have a legal defense to avoid testifying. “Anderson did not have a legal reason not to testify. We feel like we have at least a dozen legal reasons not to testify.” But he also believes the sourcing battle will not end with the next hearing, predicting that whichever side loses will likely appeal.