- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2006

Although Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor will not serve jail time after accepting a plea bargain in his felony assault trial yesterday, he still faces possible discipline from the NFL.

NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said Taylor — who yesterday in Miami pleaded guilty to a simple assault misdemeanor charge and a battery misdemeanor charge — is subject to a fine, suspension or both under the league’s personal conduct policy.

Aiello said a decision would be made before the start of the season.

The 23-year-old Taylor and his attorneys had rejected all talk of a deal since being arrested a year ago yesterday in the wake of a confrontation in Miami. Reports said the incident followed a theft of two of Taylor’s all-terrain vehicles.

Police reports from the confrontation said Taylor brandished a firearm at three men, an act that had drawn three felony assault counts, each of which could have put him in prison for a minimum of three years and a maximum of 15 years. Taylor also faced a year in prison on the simple battery misdemeanor charge.

However, the recent switch in prosecutors from Michael Grieco to Abe Laeser made all the difference. Taylor, his father Pedro, the police chief in Florida City, Fla., and his attorneys met with Laeser at the assistant state attorney’s office on Tuesday. Taylor’s team gathered again yesterday at attorney Richard Sharpstein’s office to consider the offer.

“The state offered a plea deal that couldn’t be resisted,” attorney Edward Carhart said. “Even though I didn’t consider the state to have a strong case, the jury could have believed the state’s witnesses. With a mandatory three-year sentence, Sean would have been a convicted felon and that would’ve meant the end of his football career.”

And yet Taylor, who has maintained his innocence throughout the past year, at first rejected the offer, Carhart said.

“Sean turned it down and walked out of the office,” Carhart said. “His father went and talked to him and Sean came back and accepted the deal. Sean wants to get on with his life.”

In the court room today, Taylor told Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Leonard Glick the plea was “a hard pill for me to swallow” because “this is not something I think I’m guilty of.” But Taylor added: “I believe it’s in my best interest to accept this plea.”

Under the terms of the deal, Taylor will be on probation for 18 months. He also will speak at 10 schools in Dade County, Fla., about the importance of self-control, discipline and staying in school and will give $1,000 to a scholarship for each school.

The plea also is a relief to the Redskins, who endured seven continuances of Taylor’s trial, which originally was scheduled for last Sept. 12, the day after the 2005 season opener.

“We are glad that Sean’s situation seems to be working towards a conclusion,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said.

The fifth pick in the 2004 draft, Taylor has been embroiled in controversy on and off the field, but has earned raves from Washington’s coaching staff for his play and his desire.

The league has fined Taylor seven times since he was drafted, including a $25,000 penalty for skipping the mandatory rookie symposium that first summer. After the January playoff victory over Tampa Bay, Taylor was fined $17,000 for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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