WASHINGTON — Washington Wizards
star Gilbert Arenas pleaded guilty Friday to carrying a pistol without
a license in the District of Columbia, a felony conviction that could
jeopardize his future in the NBA.
Arenas pleaded guilty to a single
count of violating the city's strict gun laws as part of a plea bargain
in D.C. Superior Court. He will remain free at least until his
sentencing March 26.
The charge stems from a Dec. 21
incident in which Arenas admitted he stored guns in his locker at the
Verizon Center and took them out to play a joke on a teammate.
The NBA has suspended him
indefinitely. A pre-sentence report is not yet complete, but defense
attorney Kenneth Wainstein said Friday that prosecutors have agreed not
to seek a sentence longer than the low end of sentencing guidelines,
which call for six months to two years. That could include probation,
jail time or some combination. Judge Robert E. Morin emphasized he is
not bound by prosecutors' recommendation.
Arenas "accepted full responsibility
for his actions, acknowledged that those actions were wrong and against
the law, and has apologized to all who have been affected by his
conduct," Wainstein said in a statement.
Prosecutor Chris Kavanaugh, reading in court from a
statement of facts that Arenas agreed to, said the charge stemmed from
a Dec. 19 dispute with another player over a card game. Kavanaugh did
not identify the other player, but authorities have searched the home
of teammate Javaris Crittenton for a gun.
Kavanaugh said the disagreement
developed during a team flight back from Phoenix. The other player
offered to settle matters with a fist fight, but Arenas, 28, said he
was too old for that and suggested he would instead burn the other
player's car or shoot him in the face. The argument on the plane ended
with the other player saying he would shoot Arenas in his surgically
Two days later, Kavanaugh said,
Arenas brought at least one gun to the Verizon Center in a black
backpack. He laid out four guns on a chair in front of the other
player's locker with a sign saying, "Pick one."
When the other player asked, "What is this?," Arenas responded: "You said you were going to shoot me. Pick one."
The other player said he had his own
gun, threw one of Arenas' weapons across the room and then displayed
his own firearm, Kavanaugh said.
Since Arenas first acknowledged
keeping guns in his locker, he has publicly employed a "goof ball"
defense, claiming he wasn't aware of the law, meant no harm and never
takes anything seriously.
But he was subdued in court Friday,
wearing a gray suit with a light pinstripe and responding in a soft
voice to the judge's questions.
The three-time All-Star earlier
acknowledged storing four unloaded guns in his locker, saying he wanted
to keep them away from his young children and didn't know it was a
violation of the city's strict gun laws. He says he took them out of
the locker Dec. 21 in a "misguided effort to play a joke" on a
He was charged Thursday, hours after
Crittenton had his northern Virginia apartment searched by police
looking for a silver- or chrome-colored semiautomatic handgun with a
black handle. The search warrant indicated police were investigating
crimes that include brandishing a weapon. No evidence was seized,
according to court documents, and Crittenton has not been charged.
Crittenton has previously said he did nothing wrong.
Even if Arenas avoids jail, the
outcome of the legal process will have important implications on his
future in the NBA and specifically with the Wizards. Possession of a
gun at an NBA arena is a violation of the league's collective
bargaining agreement, and last week commissioner David Stern suspended
Arenas indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of the
investigation, a move supported by the Wizards.
Stern was particularly upset that
Arenas repeatedly joked about the matter with reporters and on Twitter.
Arenas at one point said: "I'm a goof ball and that's what I am, so
even doing something like this, I'm going to make fun of it and that's
how I am."