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Subdued Arenas pleads guilty, could face jail time

WASHINGTON - Wizards star Gilbert Arenas pleaded guilty Friday to carrying a pistol without a license in the District of Columbia, a felony conviction that could jeopardize his future in the NBA.

Arenas pleaded guilty to a single count of violating the city's strict gun laws as part of a plea bargain in D.C. Superior Court. He will remain free at least until his sentencing March 26. The charge stems from a Dec. 21 incident in which Arenas acknowledged he stored guns in his locker at Verizon Center and took them out to play a joke on a teammate.

A pre-sentence report is not yet complete, but defense attorney Kenneth Wainstein said Friday that prosecutors have agreed not to seek a sentence longer than the low end of sentencing guidelines, which call for six months to two years. That could include probation, jail time or some combination. Judge Robert E. Morin emphasized he is not bound by the prosecutors' recommendation.

Since Arenas first acknowledged keeping guns in his locker, he has publicly employed a "goofball" defense, saying he wasn't aware of the law, meant no harm and never takes anything seriously. But he was subdued in court Friday, wearing a gray suit with a light pinstripe and responding in a soft voice to the judge's questions.

Arenas "accepted full responsibility for his actions, acknowledged that those actions were wrong and against the law, and has apologized to all who have been affected by his conduct," Wainstein said in a statement.

Even if Arenas avoids jail, the outcome of the legal process will have important implications regarding his future in the NBA and specifically with the Wizards. Possession of a gun at an NBA arena is a violation of the league's collective-bargaining agreement, and last week commissioner David Stern suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of the investigation, a move supported by the Wizards.

U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips said in a statement that "playing with firearms is no joke. Today's guilty plea to a felony count of carrying a pistol without a license reflects the seriousness and grave risk of such conduct."

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