Gooden sentenced to year in prison for drug use

4/6/2006 - MLB New York Mets

TAMPA, Fla. -- Former baseball star Dwight Gooden was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in prison for violating his
probation by using cocaine, the latest legal trouble for the once-dominant pitcher.

With credit for time already served in jail and a drug treatment facility, Gooden likely will spend about 7 months in state prison, said his attorney, Peter Hobson.

Gooden, 41, was serving three years of probation for speeding away from police during a drunken driving traffic stop last year when he
failed a drug test and acknowledged to a probation officer that he
had used cocaine.

He chose the prison sentence over reinstatement of his
probation, which would have meant the prospect of five years behind
bars if he violated it again.

"I have a problem, sir, with cocaine," Gooden, dressed in an
orange jail outfit, told state Circuit Judge Daniel L. Perry. "I
had a cocaine relapse."

As part of his probation, he had been ordered to stay away from
alcohol, drugs and bars, and to submit to a minimum of three random
urine tests a week. He also spent two months in an addiction
treatment facility.

Regarding his choice of prison over reinstatement of probation,
Hobson said Gooden "made a decision that he in his mind thought
was best for him."

"This is not a case of a pampered athlete," Hobson said. "He
took it like a man. He took it like any citizen in this situation.
He didn't whimper, he didn't cry, he didn't beg. He took it like a

Prosecutor Pam Bondi said she hopes Gooden can get the help he
needs and get on with his life.

Gooden apologized to the court in November when he pleaded
guilty to a felony count of fleeing police, misdemeanor charges of
reckless driving and obstruction and to an unrelated charge of
hitting his girlfriend.

Gooden had been the 1984 Rookie of the Year, and he was the 1985
NL Cy Young Award winner while with the New York Mets. He went
194-112 with a 3.51 ERA before retiring in 2001. He also pitched
for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and
Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In 1994, while with the Mets, Gooden was suspended for 60 days
for testing positive for cocaine. He tested positive for cocaine
again while on suspension and was sidelined for the 1995 season.