NEW ORLEANS - Former New Orleans Saints player Darren Sharper pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in connection with allegations he drugged and assaulted women in four states, the latest development in the former Pro-Bowler's fall from grace.
Sharper, wearing an orange jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled together, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs to commit rape and two counts of distributing drugs to commit rape.
Sharper was first arrested in January 2014 in Los Angeles on rape charges and has been jailed since February of that year. Allegations of drug-related rapes in other states -- Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana -- eventually followed.
A plea deal was announced in March to resolve the charges in all jurisdictions.
On March 23, he pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Arizona and no contest in California. On March 24, Sharper pleaded guilty in Las Vegas to a reduced felony: attempted sex assault. He still faces state charges in Louisiana. Sharper is expected to serve a total of nine years in all the cases he faces.
During the federal hearing Friday, Judge Jane Triche Milazzo listed the counts against Sharper and outlined the plea deal that calls for Sharper to be imprisoned for nine years.
"Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty?" the judge asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Sharper replied.
Assistant United States Attorney Mark A. Miller told the judge that in exchange for the plea deal, Sharper has agreed to help the investigation into other defendants. The judge now has to decide whether to accept the plea deal.
The next hearing in the case will be Aug. 20.
Authorities are also pursuing cases against two other men in connection with the case, including a former sheriff's deputy in nearby St. Bernard Parish. Both of the other defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Sharper was selected as an All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times during a career that included stints with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. He played in two Super Bowls, one with the Packers as a rookie and in the Saints' 2010 victory.