Published April 20, 2012
LAS VEGAS – An associate of Floyd Mayweather Jr. took a plea deal Friday that could get him 18 years in prison for shooting at two men in a car after one of them argued with the championship boxer at a Las Vegas skating center.
Ocie Harris, 29, of Chicago, pleaded an equivalent of no contest in Nevada state court to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of firing a weapon into a vehicle. Each charge carries a possible sentence of one to six years in prison.
Harris declined comment outside court. His lawyer, Tom Pitaro, said he intends to seek probation.
Mayweather was never charged in the case, and his name wasn't spoken during Harris' brief court appearance. Mayweather's lawyer, Richard Wright, didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
The unbeaten five-division champion is training for a May 5 fight against Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas, where he's due to serve 90 days in county jail beginning June 1 after pleading guilty in an unrelated domestic violence case.
Harris avoided trial with his Alford plea before Clark County District Judge Douglas Herndon. He didn't admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors could prove their case involving the August 2009 shooting outside the Crystal Palace Skate Center.
Prosecutors dropped two more-serious attempted murder charges and one felony weapon charge.
Prosecutor Samuel Bateman noted that Harris' plea is a conviction on three felonies. He said he planned to make Mayweather's presence at the shooting scene and his encounter with one of the men in the car part of the court record during Harris' Aug. 23 sentencing.
"The facts are plain that Mr. Harris and Mr. Mayweather are associates and friends," Bateman said outside court. "It doesn't appear to me there was any other motive" for the shooting.
Authorities say seven shots were fired and six hit the BMW sedan. Neither the driver, Damein Bland, nor the passenger, Quincey Williams, was wounded.
A separate civil lawsuit alleging Mayweather orchestrated the attack is pending in Clark County District Court. It seeks monetary damages for Bland and Williams.
Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe, has characterized the lawsuit as "another attempt to extort money."
The argument was over a text message that Williams sent wishing Mayweather bad luck in his next fight, according to a police report. Mayweather allegedly told Williams he could have him "trumped."
Witnesses told police that Harris was with Mayweather "as he was threatening Williams" and that others heard a group of men tell Harris to wait for Williams and Bland to exit the skating center.
Ellerbe has denied that Mayweather was involved in the shooting.
Police later seized handguns, ammunition, bulletproof vests and two vehicles from Mayweather's home but did not find the gun believed to have been used in the shooting.
Investigators said Mayweather acknowledged being at the skating center with his two-tone Rolls Royce but denied knowing anyone named Ocie or having any knowledge of a shooting.
Mayweather's delayed 90-day county jail sentence follows his guilty plea last December to reduced charges stemming from a September 2010 physical altercation with the mother of three of his children in Las Vegas, and threats to beat their two sons.