- Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Former NFL star Darren Sharper understood the consequences of the plea deal that led to his nearly two-decade prison sentence for drugging and raping women, federal prosecutors said in court filings Friday.

Sharper, part of the New Orleans Saints team that won the 2010 Super Bowl, is hoping to reduce his punishment after having pleaded guilty or no-contest to criminal charges in federal and state courts. The case developed from accusations that he drugged and sexually assaulted as many as 16 women.

He was arrested and jailed in Los Angeles in 2014. As allegations and criminal charges mounted, a “global” plea agreement was announced involving state courts in Arizona, California, Nevada and Louisiana, plus U.S. District Court in New Orleans. It was expected to result in a nine-year sentence.

But U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo rejected the sentence as too light. She gave Sharper the option of withdrawing his plea. After he decided to maintain the plea, Milazzo sentenced him to 18 years and four months.

Sharper’s lawyers appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. They filed arguments last month that Milazzo did not adequately explain the consequences of the plea. They also argued that Sharper risked jeopardizing his plea agreements in all jurisdictions had he withdrawn his plea. Thus, they said, Sharper was “forced to plead by coercive factors out of his control.”

Prosecutors said Sharper had waived his right to appeal.

“Facing greater punishment and the possibility of having incriminating statements and evidence used against him are no more coercive that the numerous hard choices routinely faced by defendants in criminal cases,” they added in Friday’s brief.

Sharper retired from the NFL in 2011 after a 14-year career with the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings and the Saints

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