Tyson due ruling today on assault charges; Sentencing could land fighter back in prison for violation of parole


Less than three weeks after he successfully launched his latest ring comeback by knocking out Francois Botha, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is on the ropes again. He faces the possibility of being found guilty of second-degree assault on two Maryland motorists, thus violating his probation on a rape conviction and being sent back to jail for as long as 20 years.

Tyson's fate rests in the hands of District Court Judge Stephen Johnson in Rockville this afternoon. The fighter had pleaded "no contest" to the charges of having struck a glancing blow to the jaw of Abimelec Saucedo, of Gaithersburg, and kicking Richard Dale Hardick, of Frederick County, in the groin after the two were involved in a fender-bender with a car driven by Tyson's wife, Monica, near Gaithersburg, last Aug. 31.

Tyson, 32, settled the civil suit with both defendants for an undisclosed amount of money, but still must face criminal charges for the alleged assault. Judge Johnson warned him that despite his no contest plea, he could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine on both charges.

Montgomery County State's Attorney Doug Gansler, heading the prosecution team, recommended prison time, contending Tyson "is nothing less than a time bomb buried in our own backyard."

This drew the ire of Tyson's attorney, Paul Kemp, who said that an agreement with Gansler's predecessor, Robert Dean, specified that Tyson would plead no contest to the assault charges and prosecutors would not recommend the manner or length of incarceration. Gansler denied knowledge of such an agreement.

If Judge Johnson imposes a prison sentence, this could prompt Indiana State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Gifford to find Tyson in violation of his parole that is due to end next month and return him to prison, where he had served three years of a six-year sentence after being found guilty in 1993 of raping a teen-aged beauty pageant contestant.

But former Indiana prosecutor Greg Garrison, who presided over the rape case, told the New York Daily News recently that he did not consider Tyson's road rage a serious matter.

"Most NFL players do more than that before lunchtime," Garrison said. "I'm no fan of Tyson, but I don't see this being too important. She [Judge Gifford] sees so many things worse than this in her court, I can't imagine her caring much."

Before fighting Botha, Tyson said that he might have abused the two motorists, but could not recall the incident clearly.

He had also made a mea culpa to the Nevada State Athletic Commission after biting both heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield's ears in June 1997, an act that led to an 18-month suspension from boxing.

Pub Date: 2/05/99

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