Wizards' Arenas charged with felony gun possession
The future of Washington Wizards' star guard Gilbert Arenas is in serious jeopardy.
Arenas was charged with felony gun possession on Thursday by the US Attorney's office for the District, a crime that carries a maximum five years in jail and a fine, authorities told the Washington Post.
Court officials said they had been told to prepare to have Arenas in Superior Court on Friday.
In a late development, the newspaper told ESPN that Arenas and his attorney have reached a plea deal with prosecutors, probably resulting in him having to serve no jail time.
However, the ball will be in judge's court to determine whether Arenas receives probation, community service, a fine or a combination of them.
He could still go to jail because of a prior misdemeanour gun charge several years ago as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
The US Attorney's office alleged that on December 21, Arenas "did carry, openly and concealed on or about his person, in a place other than his dwelling place, place of business or on other land possessed by him, a pistol, without licence issued pursuant to law."
The guns became an issue after Arenas and Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton got into a heated argument after a card game on a flight back from Phoenix. After being goaded by Arenas, Crittenton allegedly said he would shoot him in his surgically repaired left knee, sources have said.
On December 21, at Verizon Center, Arenas placed multiple guns on a chair next to Crittenton's locker with a note that said "pick one."
According to sources, Crittenton pushed them aside and said he had his own gun.
"I took the unloaded guns out in a misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate," Arenas said in a recent statement issued by his lawyer. "Contrary to some press accounts, I never threatened or assaulted anyone with the guns and never pointed them at anyone.
"Joke or not, I now recognize that what I did was a mistake and was wrong. I should not have brought the guns to DC in the first place, and I now realize that there's no such thing as joking around when it comes to guns - even if unloaded."
Arenas' thoughtless actions, his subsequent antics and comments addressing a very serious matter with little remorse prompted the NBA and league commissioner David Stern to suspend the three-time All-Star indefinitely and without pay on January 6.
Also Thursday, DC and Arlington police searched Crittenton's home looking for the gun he reportedly used in the locker room confrontation with Arenas, according to the Post, citing sources familiar with the investigation and court papers.
However, police did not find the gun at his Arlington home in an early morning search, Crittenton's lawyer Peter White and the court papers said.
"I can confirm that a search warrant was executed on Mr Crittenton's apartment today, that Mr Crittenton cooperated with the officers conducting the search, and that no evidence was found or seized by police," White said.
Since the incident, authorities and the grand jury have spoken to Wizards coach Flip Saunders, team president Ernie Grunfeld and several players.
The Wizards endorsed the suspension last week, and issued another statement following Thursday's filings.
"We are aware of the charge filed against Gilbert Arenas today and will continue to follow the ongoing legal process very carefully," the club said in a statement.
"We will also continue to cooperate fully with the proper authorities and the NBA. Beyond our previous statements on this serious and unfortunate matter we will have no further comment at this time."
Arenas reportedly met on Wednesday with Billy Hunter, the head of the NBA Players' Union, to ensure he receives due process and does not want the punishment to exceed the transgression.
"You don't use a sledgehammer to drive a tack," Hunter told the newspaper. "Right now, we're just waiting for the investigation to conclude and then we'll see what level or degree of discipline the commissioner is talking about imposing.
"And once the commissioner makes his decision that will determine what extent we get involved and don't get involved."