U.S. District Judge Susan Illston immediately delayed imposing the sentence while Bonds appeals his obstruction of justice conviction.
He was found guilty in April not of using steroids, but of misleading grand jurors.
Even without prison time, the case has left its mark on the seven-time National League MVP. His 762 career home runs, and 73 homers in 2001, might forever be seen as tainted records, and his ticket to baseball’s Hall of Fame is in doubt.
Bonds declined to speak in court. Well-wishers hugged the 47-year-old in the hallway courtroom after the hearing was over, and a smattering of fans cheered him as he left the courthouse.
It was a marked departure from his initial court appearance four years ago, when guards had to clear a path for Bonds to get through dozens of onlookers to his SUV.
“Whatever he did or didn’t do, we all lie,” said Esther Picazo, a fan outside the courthouse. “We all make mistakes. But I don’t think he should’ve gotten any kind of punishment at all.”
Bonds was sentenced to two years of probation, 250 hours of community service, a $4,000 fine and 30 days of home confinement. It will take time to determine whether he serves any of it; his appellate specialist, Dennis Riordan, estimated it would take nearly a year and a half for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella called the sentence a “slap on the wrist” and the fine “almost laughable” for a superstar athlete who made more than $192 million for playing baseball.
Parrella had sought 15 months in prison and argued that home confinement wasn’t punishment enough “for a man with a 15,000-square-foot house with all the advantages.” Bonds lives in a six-bedroom, 10-bath house with a gym and swimming pool.
Parrella said Bonds made lots of money due in part to his use of performance enhancers and that he has been “unrepentant” and “unapologetic” about it.
Illston said none of that had any bearing on Bonds’ sentencing.
Bonds is the last – and highest-profile – defendant in the government’s investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, a steroids distribution ring.
Illston said she was compelled to give Bonds a sentence similar to the two she meted out to other figures convicted after trial of lying to the grand jury and federal investigators about their connection to steroids.