American Football: Irvin will avoid prison sentence

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The Independent Online
Michael Irvin, star receiver of the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Dallas Cowboys, yesterday kept himself out of prison and on the football field by reaching a deal with prosecutors in his current drug trial in Dallas, that provides for a four-year probation term and a $10,000 fine (pounds 6,450).

Under the agreement the 30-year-old Irvin will plead no contest to a second degree cocaine possession felony, arising from the raid on a motel room in a Dallas suburb on 4 March where police found Irvin, his former team-mate Alfredo Roberts and two topless dancers along with considerable quantities of marijuana and cocaine.

The agreement came shortly before the opening of pre-season training for the Cowboys, winners of three Super Bowls in the last four years. It follows devastating testimony by a third topless dancer, Rachelle Smith, last week on Irvin's alleged drug and sexual habits. Cocaine possession in the United States can carry a prison term of up to 20 years.

In the absence of the jury, Smith told the court she and one of the dancers involved in the incident on 4 March had used drugs on three occasions with Irvin in the previous month. She also said that Irvin had threatened to kill her after she testified in April to the Dallas grand jury examining the case.

Johnnie Hernandez, Smith's boyfriend and an officer in the Dallas police force, is in jail awaiting trial on charges that he had paid a hit man to have Irvin killed - apparently in retaliation for the footballer's own threats against Smith.

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