Strawberry avoids jail term

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The Independent Online

Instead of spending the summer in jail, Darryl Strawberry could be back playing baseball. Strawberry received a lenient sentence in New York on Monday for evading federal income taxes, getting six months' home confinement rather than the three months in prison he had agreed to in a plea bargain.

He was not fined, but he must pay $350,000 (£218,000) in back taxes, interest and penalties. He was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service and mandatory drug abuse counselling. He will be allowed to travel, however, and attend practice if he finds a new team.

Strawberry was suspended for the first 60 days of the season on 6 February after testing positive for cocaine. The San Francisco Giants then released him. If he finds a new team, the earliest he will be allowed to play this season is 24 June.

Strawberry pleaded guilty to one charge of tax evasion for failing to report thousands of dollars he received, usually in cash, at autograph signings in the late 1980s. "I apologise for the mess I've caused myself, my fans, friends and family," Strawberry said before he was sentenced. "At some particular moments I felt it wasn't worth it to be living."

The judge had warned him that he had discretion in determining the sentence. He also admonished Strawberry for using drugs while the case was pending, a violation of his pre-trial probation. "I'd just like to say that I take full responsibility for my actions, but I think I truly got poor advice," Strawberry said.