Bell pleads no contest to DUI, hit-and-run charges
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Former San Jose Sharks forward Mark Bell has pleaded no contest to drunken driving and hit-and-run charges and will serve six months in a Santa Clara County jail, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Bell, who was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in June, had faced nearly four years in state prison if convicted of the original charges. He entered the plea Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court, said prosecutor Cindy Seeley Hendrickson.
The drunken-driving charge is a felony and the hit-and-run charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor as part of the plea agreement, said Bell's defense lawyer, Ken Robinson. A sentencing date has not been set, Robinson said, adding that Bell will serve his sentence during the summer months so it doesn't conflict with the hockey season.
"This was a fair settlement to a difficult case," Robinson said.
Bell was arrested in September 2006 after his Toyota sedan rear-ended a pickup truck in an early-morning accident in Milpitas, Calif., a town in the San Jose foothills.
The 40-year-old driver of the truck received head injuries and cuts. Bell walked a short distance from the scene and was arrested. His blood-alcohol level was higher than 0.15, nearly double the state's legal limit of 0.08, prosecutors said.
At the time of his arrest, Bell had not yet played for the Sharks after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, where he was named Chicago's "Man of the Year" for his charity work and community service.
He was a disappointment in his only season in San Jose, managing just 11 goals and 10 assists in 71 games. When he was traded this summer, Bell had two years and $4.5 million remaining on the contract he signed after joining the Sharks.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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