- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Darryl Strawberry was sentenced to 18 months in prison yesterday for violating probation, a punishment he calmly accepted by insisting, "My life is going in the right direction."
Dressed in an orange jail-issued uniform, the former major league star said he would "just like to get this behind me."
"I would like to do my 18 months and move on," Strawberry said. "I don't want to have this over my head."
In the latest in a long list of his legal problems, the 40-year-old Strawberry was ordered behind bars for violating probation for the sixth time following his 1999 conviction on drug and solicitation of prostitution charges.
The latest violation involved breaking the rules of a drug treatment center by smoking, having sex with a resident and trading baseballs for cigarettes.
Again yesterday, Strawberry's lawyer suggested a treatment center. But Judge Florence Foster, who repeatedly decided treatment was better than prison for Strawberry, is no longer presiding over his case.
Retired Judge Ralph Steinberg was brought back into service to replace Foster while she is on medical leave. While handing out the sentence, Steinberg said he hoped Strawberry will return to baseball one day, drawing a smile from the player who has three World Series rings.
Strawberry's lawyer, Darryl Rouson, said he expects his client will serve fewer than 13 months and will get credit for time already spent in jail nearly two months in 2001 and more than a month this year.
Under Florida law, inmates must serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentences before they are released.
Assistant Hillsborough County State Attorney Darrell Dirks was pleased with the outcome.
"He didn't like someone telling him what to do," Dirks told the judge. "At some point he should be punished for that."
Strawberry's wife, Charisse, was in court. She declined to comment after the sentencing.
Rouson wants Strawberry sent to Zephyrhills Correctional Institution near Tampa, which has programs for drug-addicted and mentally ill inmates. Rouson said the Department of Corrections probably will decide within 10 days where Strawberry will serve his sentence.
Last year, Foster suspended Strawberry's 18-month prison sentence, provided he completed the program at the Ocala-area drug treatment center.
Prosecutors had urged Foster to send Strawberry to prison after he violated house arrest at another drug treatment center by escaping and going on a cross-state drug binge. However, Strawberry's lawyer said the eight-time All-Star needed medical care and mental health services not available in Florida prisons.
Strawberry was on World Series championship teams with the New York Mets in 1986 and the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1999. Along with his legal problems, he has been treated for colon and stomach cancer. Strawberry has not used drugs for more than a year, his attorney said.
Ron Dock, a counselor at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa who has stood by Strawberry through his numerous brushes with the law, said, "He's at peace. I am very proud of that man. He's not that little boy from a few months ago. He's a man today."

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