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Sharper reaches new plea agreement in rape case
Darren Sharper has reached a new plea agreement that could put him in prison for more than nine years and require him to testify against two co-defendants at an upcoming federal trial, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
The terms of the new plea agreement were not disclosed. But after his previous plea agreement was rejected last month by a federal judge, the former NFL star didn’t have much leverage for a better deal.
He could have withdrawn his guilty plea, facing trial and the possibility of 20 years in prison on federal rape and drug charges. Or he could try to reach a new plea agreement that might lead to longer punishment than the nine-year deal rejected last month by U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo.
The previous nine-year deal was an ”inappropriate” and insufficient punishment for his crimes, Milazzo indicated then.
The same judge on Wednesday set a hearing for March 17 on Sharper’s new plea agreement. A trial is scheduled for May 16 involving two of his alleged accomplices: former sheriff’s deputy Brandon Licciardi and New Orleans waiter Erik Nunez. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Sharper agreed to cooperate with authorities as part of his previous plea deal. If he testifies at trial, that cooperation could be weighed in his sentencing afterward.
“Mr. Sharper respectfully requests that his sentencing be continued until after the trial of this matter, currently scheduled for May 16, 2016, so that the Court can evaluate his full cooperation in connection with sentencing,” his attorneys stated in court documents Wednesday. “The government consents to this request.”
Milazzo granted that request. His sentencing is now set for June 16.
Sharper, 40, was accused of raping nine women in four states and has pleaded guilty or no contest to charges in California, Nevada, Arizona and Louisiana. Prosecutors say he used similar pattern in the different cases – using drugs such as Ambien to render women unconscious before raping them while they slept.
He won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints and also played for the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Nunez worked for the same women’s charity events at which Sharper sometimes made appearances to raise breast cancer awareness, according to social media accounts in his name.