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Wizards' Gilbert Arenas gets probation in guns case

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington Wizards three-time All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas was sentenced on Friday to two years' probation for bringing guns into the basketball team's locker room.

The judge showed leniency to Arenas, who sought to avoid any jail time after pleading guilty on January 15 to felony weapons possession for bringing four guns into the National Basketball Association team's Verizon Center locker room.

Superior Court Judge Robert Morin said Arenas as part of the sentence must spend 30 days in a half-way house, perform 400 hours of community service and pay $5,000 to a fund for victims of violent crimes.

The judge said Arenas had accepted responsibility, was genuinely remorseful, and was basically a "decent person" who had performed acts of charity and kindness to strangers.

Arenas, wearing a dark suit and tie while showing no emotion, stood before the judge and admitted his acts were "stupid and irresponsible."

"I am very sorry that this all happened," he said.

Under a plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek more than six months in jail for Arenas. But Morin was not bound by the agreement and could have sentenced him to as little as probation or up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh, had recommended that Arenas, 28, receive three months of incarceration, three years of probation and be required to do 300 hours of community service.

Kavanaugh told the judge Arenas had been convicted of a similar gun offense previously, that he gave multiple versions of the event, that he attempted to hide the truth and had failed to show genuine remorse.

"Take away the wealth, the fame, the power -- the defendant deserves incarceration," he said.

Defense attorneys, led by Kenneth Wainstein, said Arenas had accepted responsibility and that justice would be best served with a sentence of probation and community service.

Wainstein accused government prosecutors of embarking on a public relations campaign to smear his client, "to get an additional pound of flesh out of the defendant."

At the end of January, the NBA suspended Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton without pay for the rest of the season for bringing guns into the locker room.

The two players brought the guns after a dispute over a poker game on a flight home from a game in December. Crittenton also pleaded guilty and received a sentence of one year of probation.

(Reporting by James Vicini, editing by Todd Eastham)