Baxter loses contract in Spain after getting 60-day sentence

Updated: August 31, 2007, 4:42 PM ET
Associated Press

GREENBELT, Md. -- A federal judge sentenced former University of Maryland basketball star Lonny Baxter to 60 days in prison on Friday for illegally shipping firearms, a ruling that cost Baxter his contract with a Spanish team.

U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte based the sentence on Baxter's history with firearms and his actions in the case.

"You are in a sense on injured reserve," Messitte told Baxter, who pleaded guilty in July. "You have in effect injured yourself."

Baxter's Spanish league contract was rescinded Friday, according to a statement on the Web site of his team in Barcelona, DKV Joventut de Badalona. Baxter, who had already begun training with the team, is scheduled to report to prison by Oct. 1. His agent did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

"The 60 days cost my client a lot," said Richard Finci, Baxter's attorney.

Finci had argued for no prison time, noting that Baxter had admitted to the crime and had willingly turned over the guns. Under federal sentencing guidelines and the terms of his plea agreement, he could have been sentenced to up to six months.

Baxter apologized to Messitte before the sentencing, saying he had an "obsession" with guns.

"I took full responsibility and now I have to deal with the situation," Baxter told reporters after the sentencing.

The 28-year-old had pleaded guilty to sending three handguns and a rifle from Houston to College Park using Federal Express in July 2006. Federal law requires senders to inform shippers if a delivery contains firearms.

Baxter paid for the four guns but had a female friend fill out the federal registration form. He then shipped the guns to another friend in College Park, picking them up later.

Baxter made a similar gun buy in February 2006, paying for the weapons but having a friend fill out the registration forms.

In August 2006, Baxter was arrested by the Secret Service for firing off a Glock handgun in the air near the White House. The gun was one of the four from the July shipment.

Agents investigating that case later uncovered the gun delivery. Baxter pleaded guilty to gun charges and was sentenced to two months in prison in that case.

Baxter helped lead Maryland to the NCAA national title in 2002 and was selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls later that year.

But he struggled as a professional, moving between several NBA teams before signing with the Italian team Montepaschi Siena last year as a forward.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press