Athletes end up in Vegas-style penalty box

Despite sporting triumphs, these athletes failed in the eye of the law


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has his tie straightened by adviser Leonard Ellerbe while appearing in court to plead guilty on a domestic violence charge Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, at the Clark County Regional Justice Center. Mayweather received a six-month sentence.

Published Fri, Apr 20, 2012 (2 a.m.)

Updated Tue, Jul 23, 2013 (3:42 p.m.)

They're basketball greats, football legends and boxing champs, and all have a common denominator: They faced legal charges in Las Vegas for a variety of offenses.

As a result, some missed playing games, one was banished from casinos and another lucked out when a judge worked around his boxing schedule. It's safe to say these Las Vegas incidents gave sports fans an added reason to shake their heads in disgust.

Here's a look at the seven athletes and how they wound up playing defense in the courtroom:

    • Antoine Walker

      Former NBA player Antoine Walker can no longer stroll into a Las Vegas casino and sit down at a blackjack table, play a slot machine or throw dice at a craps table. He’s prohibited from gambling.

      In June 2011, Walker pleaded guilty to felony bad check charges after failing to pay gambling debts at three casinos — Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and Red Rock Resort — in 2009.

      The deal struck with prosecutors stipulated that Walker must pay back $770,050 in restitution to the casinos and is prohibited from gambling. If he fails to meet the terms of his probation, a one-year suspended sentence will go into effect. He was sentenced in December 2011.

      Walker was a three-time all-star for the Boston Celtics and last played in 2008 with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    • Floyd Mayweather

      Outside of the boxing ring, champion fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. spent considerable time inside Las Vegas courtrooms the past couple years.

      It started in September 2010 when Mayweather was arrested in connection with battery domestic violence involving his ex-girlfriend. In December 2011, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery domestic violence and no contest to harassment for pulling his ex-girlfriend’s hair, punching her and twisting her arm during the argument while their two young children watched.

      He was sentenced to serve a 90-day jail term, perform 100 hours of community service, complete a yearlong domestic violence counseling program and pay a $2,500 fine.

      In November 2010, more legal troubles followed. Mayweather was charged with misdemeanor battery stemming from a confrontation over parking tickets between him and security guards outside his home. In December 2011, Mayweather pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and had to pay a $1,000 fine.

      He was released in summer 2012 after serving much of a 90-day sentence in the Clark County Detention Center.

    • Chace Stanback

      UNLV basketball player Chace Stanback missed an exhibition game and the season-opening game after pleading guilty to a DUI charge in September 2011.

      The senior player and star forward was arrested in the early morning hours of May 13, 2011, at the intersection of Colby Avenue and Swenson Street, not far from the Thomas & Mack Center. Metro Police conducted a vehicle traffic stop after Stanback was speeding. Police then arrested him for suspected drunken driving. A blood test administered by police later revealed marijuana in his system, but no traces of alcohol.

      Four months later, Stanback pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of DUI-marijuana in Las Vegas Justice Court. As part of the plea agreement, a judge ordered a 30-day suspended sentence, a $585 fine and 40 hours of community service.

    • O.J. Simpson, left, listens to his attorney Yale Galanter during his sentencing hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas Friday, Dec. 5, 2008.

      O.J. Simpson

      In the end, a black leather glove and white Ford Bronco had nothing to do with O.J. Simpson landing behind bars. Instead, it was a six-minute audio recording of an altercation in a Las Vegas hotel room.

      On Sept. 13, 2007, Simpson and five other men in his entourage confronted memorabilia dealers inside a room at Palace Station, while the middleman who arranged the meeting secretly recorded it. The memorabilia dealers then reported an armed robbery to police.

      Simpson said no guns were involved and that he was there to reclaim property stolen from him; however, police arrested him three days later at the Palms.

      The former NFL running back and his co-accused, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, were found guilty Oct. 3, 2008, of robbing the collectibles dealer at gunpoint. Simpson was convicted on a dozen counts, including two counts of first-degree kidnapping, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. The other alleged accomplices testified against Simpson and Stewart.

      In December 2008, a Clark County judge sentenced Simpson to 33 years in prison without the possibility of parole for nine years. He’s currently serving time at Lovelock Correctional Center, according to Nevada inmate records.

    • Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry, left, and Los Angeles Clippers guard Mo Williams, right, scramble for a loose ball in the first half of a NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, in Los Angeles.

      Kyle Lowry

      NBA player Kyle Lowry's emotions on the basketball court led to a Las Vegas courtroom hearing.

      The Houston Rockets player entered a no contest plea in February 2012 to a misdemeanor battery charge. He allegedly threw a basketball at a referee during a pickup game last September.

      The referee was officiating a game between NBA players Sept. 22 when Lowry allegedly threw a ball at her torso as the game ended, and then hit her with another ball as she was changing her shoes.

      A Las Vegas Justice of the Peace approved a plea agreement that allowed the matter to be dismissed if Lowry completed 100 hours of community service at a battered women's shelter or similar program, enrolled in impulse control counseling and stayed out of trouble for six weeks. Lowry did not appear in court.

    • Michael Whitehead

      Michael Whitehead

      Attempted sexual assault charges landed Michael Whitehead, a mixed martial arts fighter who appeared on Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter," in state prison for one to four years.

      A Clark County District Judge in January sentenced Whitehead to prison for attacking a woman while she slept and groping another woman at his Las Vegas home after a party April 10, 2010.

      Whitehead had been arrested on charges of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, and open and gross lewdness after one of the women filed a police report. In September 2011, he entered an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but acknowledging prosecutors could prove the case against him.

      The plea deal allowed Whitehead to avoid trial on all the initial charges, which could have yielded a lengthier prison sentence.

      In addition to his prison sentence, Whitehead must also register for life as a sex offender and pay $2,400 in restitution. He's serving his prison sentence at High Desert State Prison, according to Nevada inmate records.

    • Adam "Pacman" Jones

      Four years after a club melee resulted in a shooting outside a Las Vegas strip club, NFL player Adam "Pacman" Jones' related legal case seemed closed.

      In February 2011, Jones was sentenced to a year of probation on a gross misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct. His sentence was part of a plea agreement with the Clark County District Attorney's Office related to the shooting.

      Las Vegas police alleged that Jones instigated a melee that led to a shooting Feb. 19, 2007, outside the Minxx Gentlemen's Club and Lounge, 4636 Wynn Road. Police said Jones was throwing wads of cash onto a stage, but then became angry when the strippers picked up the money, leading to a brawl.

      The then-Tennessee Titans cornerback and his entourage were ejected from the club, which police said led Jones to meet with Arvin Kenti Edwards. Moments later, Edwards opened fire with a handgun outside the club. The shooting injured three people, including a bouncer, who was paralyzed from the waist down.

      Jones, who denied any role in the shooting, originally faced two felony charges of coercion.

      As part of the plea agreement, Jones was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service, enter an anger management counseling program, stay off non-prescribed drugs, undergo random urine testing and stay out of trouble.

      It was the last part of that agreement that didn't work.

      Jones was arrested in July 2011 after a bar scuffle in Cincinnati. As a result, former Clark County District Attorney David Roger added 75 more hours of community service to Jones' sentence.

    • Larry Johnson

      Larry Johnson

      Larry Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound former star running back with the Kansas City Chiefs, was arrested in October 2012 after his 5-foot-3, 120-pound former girlfriend woke up in the hallway of the Bellagio hotel, bruised and clothed only in her underwear and a see-through blouse.

      According to a Metro Police report, the woman had been out drinking with her girlfriends when she met up with Johnson to catch up. The two then went up to his room at the Bellagio to continue talking. At some point, Johnson became enraged over something and began beating and throwing the woman around the room, the report said. He then allegedly began to squeeze her neck, when she remembered fighting back and choking out a few last words before she lost consciousness.

      “If you’re going to kill me, squeeze harder and just do it,” she said according to the police report.

      Her next conscious moment was when she woke up in the hallway.

      Johnson, the police report said, told security the woman wouldn’t press charges “same as last time."

      But she did, and in July 2013, Johnson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of domestic violence assault and battery. He was fined $345, required to perform 48 hours of public service and ordered to undergo 26 weeks of counseling.

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