As part of plea deal, La Russa gets probation, fine, community service

Updated: November 28, 2007, 5:31 PM ET
Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pleaded guilty to driving under the influence Wednesday, eight months after police found him asleep inside his running sport utility vehicle at a stop light and smelling of alcohol.

I accept full responsibility for my conduct, and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again.

--Tony La Russa

La Russa said he had decided to plead guilty to the misdemeanor because it was in the best interest of all concerned.

"I accept full responsibility for my conduct and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again," La Russa said in a statement released by his attorney, David Roth. La Russa did not appear in court to plead guilty.

As part of his plea agreement, La Russa will serve at least six months' probation, pay a $678.50 fine, complete DUI school and any recommended treatment and complete 50 hours of community service, according to state prosecutors.

The Cardinals said their concerns were addressed during the season.

"We addressed this matter with Tony last season and the nature of those discussions will remain private," chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. "We have been satisfied with Tony's responsible approach to this issue and we respect his decision. With today's news, our ballclub considers the matter closed."

The 63-year-old La Russa was arrested in March in Jupiter, where the Cardinals play spring training games.

He gave two breath samples and was determined to have a blood alcohol content of 0.093 percent, Jupiter police have said. Florida's legal driving limit is 0.08 percent.

Undercover officers first saw La Russa's SUV partially in an intersection around midnight and not moving despite several green lights, police had said. Officers knocked on the vehicle's window and La Russa did not initially respond.

The SUV was in drive and running, with La Russa's foot on the brake, police said. When he eventually woke up, the officers asked him to get out of the SUV.

He was booked in the Palm Beach County jail.

La Russa went to law school in Florida and passed the bar exam, but he no longer practices.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press