CINCINNATI — Already serving a lifetime suspension from baseball, Pete Rose faces a sentence of another type today.
Rose, who pleaded guilty on April 20 to two counts of filing false income tax returns, could be sentenced to six years in prison and fined $500,000 when he appears before U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel.
Legal experts believe there is little likelihood that Rose, former manager of the Cincinnati Reds and baseball's all-time hit leader, will receive the maximum penalty, but they predict that he will not escape with only probation or community service.
Federal sentencing guidelines enacted in 1987 mandate a sentence in the area of six to 16 months. Those guidelines are open to interpretation, but a judge must state specific reasons if he departs from them.
In an attempt to avoid a grand jury indictment, Rose pleaded guilty to charges that he failed to report $354,968 in income from memorabilia sales, card show appearances and gambling from 1984 through '87.
His attorneys refused to comment Wednesday, but they reportedly cite a number of mitigating circumstances in their pre-sentencing reports. Among them:
--Rose is a first-time offender who is being treated for a gambling addiction, which helped create his tax problems, by Dr. James Randolph, chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
--Rose has paid $366,042.86 in back taxes, interest and penalties for the years in question, plus more than $2 million in taxes on reported income of $4.6 million for that period.
Rose, of course, might qualify for a minimum-security facility or halfway house.
A recent study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that only 43% of tax violators received prison sentences before enactment of the sentencing guidelines, contrasted with 97% since then.
"The guidelines made the determination that almost all would go to prison," said Albert Alschuler, a University of Chicago law professor.
Judge Spiegel has already sent two former Rose associates there:
--Ron Peters, who claims to have been one of Rose's bookmakers, was sentenced to concurrent two-year terms for cocaine distribution and tax evasion.
--Thomas Gioiosa, a former Rose housemate and alleged gambling partner, is serving a five-year term for transporting cocaine and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by claiming portions of Rose's race-track winnings on his own tax reports.
Rose is expected to appear before Spiegel on crutches. He tore cartilage in his right knee while playing stickball at a family reunion in Indiana Sunday, according to his publicist, Barbara Pinzka. Attorney Reuven Katz said that federal probation officials have been notified that Rose will have arthroscopic surgery Friday.
Rose has been living in Plant City, Fla., and commuting to Cincinnati for his radio talk show every Thursday night.
He was relieved as manager of the Reds last Aug. 24 after accepting permanent suspension from baseball as part of an agreement with the late commissioner, Bart Giamatti, which stipulated that there would be no formal finding Rose bet on baseball.
However, an investigation by special counsel John Dowd on behalf of Giamatti concluded that Rose bet on baseball and Reds' games in 1985, '86 and '87, a conclusion Giamatti said he supported when he announced the suspension.
Baseball rules allow Rose to apply for reinstatement a year after the suspension, but today's sentencing could further delay the possibility of reinstatement and additionally damage Rose's chances to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Publicist Pinzka said Wednesday that Rose is "a very disciplined person who is hanging in there, but he's definitely concerned and aware of the seriousness (of what faces him today)."