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Strawberry Faces Possible Prison Time

After more than a month in a psychiatric ward, Darryl Strawberry faces the possibility that his next stop is state prison.

Strawberry was scheduled to go before Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Florence Foster on Friday to answer for a four-day absence from a Tampa drug treatment center where he was under house arrest.

Strawberry, 39, has been at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa since April 2, on medication to help him deal with depression, cocaine addiction and cancer.

The Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office is seeking prison time for Strawberry, who has four times violated the conditions of probation for a 1999 conviction on drug and prostitution solicitation charges.

"The maximum is five years," said Pam Bondi, a spokeswoman for the state attorney's office. "We want him to complete his drug treatment program in prison."

The Florida Department of Corrections is recommending 18 months in prison, said Joe Papy, who supervises probation services in Tampa.

Papy said where Strawberry serves that time would be decided once he's in the state prison system, although prison officials will have to place him in a facility where Strawberry can continue chemotherapy treatments.

Joe Ficarrotta, Strawberry's attorney, did not return calls seeking comment. Ficarrotta has said that he would request Strawberry be placed in a facility more secure than the residential drug treatment center.

Strawberry disappeared from the treatment center March 29, surfacing four days later and telling his probation office that a woman giving him a ride to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting began smoking crack and he could not resist joining in.

He was missing for four days, contacting his sister and a friend by telephone to tell them he had been kidnapped.

Hillsborough County sheriff's detectives dropped their investigation into the kidnapping report in mid-April after Ficarrotta wrote a letter saying Strawberry did not want to pursue the matter, according to records released last week by the agency.

The former New York outfielder has colon cancer and has been undergoing experimental chemotherapy. A checkup in February found no sign of the cancer, said his wife, Charisse Strawberry.