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Baxter loses contract in Spain after getting 60-day sentence

8/31/2007 - Maryland Terrapins

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Baxter's Spanish league contract was rescinded Friday, according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.