SAN DIEGO — Padre pitcher LaMarr Hoyt pleaded guilty Thursday to two misdemeanor drug charges, which were reduced from felonies, and will receive a 60-day to 1-year jail sentence as part of a plea bargain.
Hoyt also will have to forfeit his 1986 Porsche 944, which was seized at the border Oct. 28 when he tried to cross into the United States with 322 1/2 Valium tablets and 138 painkiller pills.
Hoyt, 31, who declined comment Thursday, will be sentenced on Dec. 16 by Federal Magistrate Roger Curtis McKee and is expected to begin his jail term in early January.
He will become the first active baseball player to serve time on drug charges since Willie Wilson, Jerry Martin and Willie Aikens of the Kansas City Royals were imprisoned in 1984.
Hoyt's future in baseball likely will be determined by Peter Ueberroth, the commissioner of baseball. Ueberroth, who has the suspended players for drug use in the past, could suspend or ban Hoyt from playing.
Ueberroth declined comment on Thursday, but spokesman Richard Levin said: "We're not going to say anything at this point. We're still reviewing the situation."
Also, the Padres could refuse to take Hoyt back. After he spent 30 days in a drug rehabilitation center last February, Hoyt was told by team president Ballard Smith, "Don't let this happen again."
It has been Smith's policy in the past not to give players second chances when it comes to using drugs.
On Thursday, Smith said: "I really don't (have anything to say). Obviously, we're going to take a look at the situation as it now exists, and we have not had an opportunity to do that yet. I have talked to Peter Ueberroth about this--although not today--and he told me what he's been telling people in the media. He wants to wait and see what happens and then take a look at the situation, which is essentially the same thing we're going to do.
"I have not talked to LaMarr, and obviously the first person that I'm going to talk to when our decision is made is him. And at the appropriate time after that, we'll let all of you know what we're going to do."
A Cy Young Award winner when he played for the Chicago White Sox, Hoyt was originally charged with importation of a controlled substance, a felony, and faced up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the Valium charge. It was Hoyt's third arrest on drug charges.
Under the plea bargain negotiated between Hoyt's attorney, Howard Frank, and Assistant U.S. Atty. Pat Swan:
- Hoyt pleaded guilty to possession of both the Valium, a tranquilizer, and the propoxyphene, a painkiller. Each count carried a maximum penalty of one year in custody and a $5,000 fine.
- On the Valium count, Hoyt agreed to go to jail for anywhere between 60 days and one year. On propoxyphene count, Hoyt agreed to a five-year probation period--beginning upon release from jail--at which time he will undergo random drug testing and drug counseling. If he violates probation at any time, he could be sent back to jail for up to a year.
- Hoyt agreed to forfeit his 1986 944 Porsche that was seized on the day of his arrest.
Swan said he was happy with the agreement because his goal all along was to get Hoyt in jail. Hoyt had been arrested with drugs twice last February, and Swan felt imprisonment this time was imperative.
"The hardest part (of negotiations) was the fact that we insisted he (Hoyt) serve a minimum amount of time in jail," Swan said.
Swan also said that most people with a third drug offense serve time and that Hoyt was treated no differently because he is a baseball player.
"The disposition in this case considered Mr. Hoyt as an individual who violated the drug laws," he said.
As for Frank, he was happy that the charges were reduced to misdemeanors.
"There's never anything pleasant about a client going into custody, but we're satisfied with the fair resolution," Frank said.
Sources said Hoyt, who will undergo weekly drug tests until he's sentenced, would like to serve his time term near his South Carolina home, but the federal Bureau of Prisons will have the final say.
"He could be sent to the San Diego MCC (Metropolitan Correctional Center) or a lower security facility like a camp," said a source in the prosecutor's office. "More than likely, he'll be at a camp. It's more of a barrack-type facility, fenced in with a little more open space. But it's still a prison.
" . . . don't get the impression that he'll go play tennis and racquetball and bulk up for the baseball season. He's going to be locked up."