CINCINNATI — A federal judge today gave Ronald Peters, identified as Pete Rose's bookmaker, a greatly reduced prison sentence on cocaine and tax evasion charges.
U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel credited Peters, 32, for his cooperation with federal prosecutors as he sentenced him to 24 months in jail on charges of cocaine distribution and making a false statement on his income taxes.
Peters, 32, could have been sentenced to a maximum 23 years on the two charges, but federal prosecutors had asked Spiegel for a maximum 14-month sentence in return for Peters' cooperation.
Federal regulations exclude the possibility of parole on the cocaine charge.
Peters expressed remorse during his sentencing hearing, at which he formally pleaded guilty to the charges.
"I do want the court to know I painfully regret every charge," Peters said.
Peters later declined to comment on the sentence. Spiegel also declined to be interviewed.
Peters' attorney, James Ruppert, had hoped for a sentence of eight to 14 months but said he was not surprised by Spiegel's decision.
Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti also wrote a letter for Peters, praising his "significant and truthful cooperation" in baseball's investigation of gambling allegations against Rose. Spiegel made no reference to the letter during the 42-minute hearing.
Ruppert said after the sentencing that he has talked with Rose's attorneys about the possibility of interviewing Peters but that no interview has been scheduled. Rose's attorneys want to talk to him as part of their preparation for a June 26 hearing in New York with Giamatti.
Ruppert also said the baseball commissioner's office has indicated that it might ask Peters to appear at Rose's hearing in New York.
Peters will be free on $5,000 bond for 30 days to get his personal affairs in order before he reports to jail.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Brichler said during an in-chambers conference that Peters told authorities that he took bets on behalf of the Reds' manager that may have totaled more than $1 million over two years. Rose's attorneys released a transcript of the hearing. Brichler, who was present at the sentencing today, declined to elaborate after the sentencing.
Federal authorities raided Peters' Franklin, Ohio, restaurant and his home last year, confiscating betting slips and other gambling paraphernalia. Peters has declined to say publicly whether the evidence linked Rose to betting.
Giamatti could suspend Rose for a year if he is found to have bet on baseball games. Betting on Reds' games would bring Rose a lifetime ban.