Thursday, August 20, 2009

Plaxico Burress Pleads Guilty to Gun Possesion; Will Serve 2 Years Behind Bars [J. Mark English]

This is from Laura Italiano and Clemente Lisi of the New York Post:

This time, he didn't catch a pass.

In a surprise move, former Giants superstar Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty today to attempted gun possession -- agreeing to a two-year prison term rather than face a guaranteed higher sentence if convicted at trial.

The time behind bars -- which will work out to 20 months with good behavior -- is his penance for accidently shooting himself in the thigh with his own Glock at a crowded Midtown nightclub last November.

The knucklehead wide-receiver will turn himself in at his Sept. 22 sentencing, exchanging his cleats for a pair of canvas loafers issued behind bars.

He'll miss the birth of his second child, who has yet to be born, although Burress is hoping not to miss his last golden years in the NFL.

He wore a resigned, hangdog expression as he took his plea, then strode wordlessly away from a crowd of press cameras to a waiting car.

"After an agonizing period of discussion, Plaxico decided he wanted to do this now in the hope that when he is released, he will be able to continue his stellar carreer," his lawyer, Ben Brafman, said after the surprise plea in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Burress famously caught the winning pass for the Giants against the New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.

He is hoping that any suspension under consideration by the NFL could be served concurrent to his sentence, Brafman said.

"If he stays healthy," Brafman said, "he has many years ahead of him."

Giants co-owner John Mara called the situation "a terrible tragedy."

"When I think about what he threw away just by making some poor choices," he said. "Hopefully it's a lesson for the rest of our players to learn."

Mara added, "The laws in New York are pretty strict for this type of offense and rightfully so."

Prosecutors' rock-bottom plea offer of two years prison expired today, said lead prosecutor John Wolfstaedter. And a mandatory three-and-a-half years minimum sentence loomed under tough state gun laws -- given the airtight weapons possession case against him.

"There was no way out," Brafman said.

Had Burress rolled the dice and gone to trial, the best he could have hoped for was a hung jury, the lawyer said.

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