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Rangers' Francisco escapes felony charge

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Texas Rangers reliever Frank Francisco
will face a misdemeanor assault charge rather than a felony for
breaking a woman's nose when he threw a chair into the stands during a game.

"He has no record. He threw a plastic chair. It's not a gun.
It's not a knife," Alameda County Senior Deputy District Attorney
Norbert Chu said Thursday, explaining his decision.

While Francisco still faces a maximum three years' probation and
one year in county jail, if convicted, he escaped the three years
in state prison connected to a felony conviction. A misdemeanor
charge also means that Francisco does not have to appear in court
for some proceedings, including the initial arraignment, Chu said.

Francisco threw the chair into the right-field box seats and hit
two spectators in the head during a Rangers-Oakland Athletics game
Sept. 13.

He hit Jennifer Bueno, whose husband, Craig, was part of a group
of fans heckling the Rangers before the fracas. The couple's
attorney, J. Gary William, said he expected such an outcome.

"It doesn't carry a state prison charge, but [the Buenos] are
not out for blood. They feel the punishment should rest in the
discretion of the prosecutors and the courts and the police," he said.

Francisco's attorney, Rick Minkoff, could not be reached for
comment Thursday.

Francisco was suspended for 15 games, which carries through the
final game of the regular season. He still faces the possibility of
a civil suit by the Buenos.