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Spadafora to receive probation for plea



Published: Tue, January 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



He is awaiting sentencing on charges that could mean 17 years in jail.

MERCER, Pa. (AP) -- Former lightweight boxing champion Paul Spadafora will plead guilty to disorderly conduct and receive probation for a September incident in which police said they found him drunk in the middle of a highway after an argument, his attorney said Monday.

The deal means Spadafora, 29, of McKees Rocks, will face no additional incarceration beyond up to 17 years in prison he faces when he's sentenced Feb. 14 in the shooting of his fiancee last year.

Spadafora appeared Monday in Mercer County Court, where prosecutors agreed to drop charges of disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and reckless endangerment in the Sept. 5 incident on Route 358 in Perry Township.

Two other disorderly conduct charges will be sent back to District Justice Ruth French, who is to sentence Spadafora to two years' probation when he pleads guilty later this month, said his attorney, William Difenderfer.

The boxer's promoter, Mike Acri, said Spadafora was sober but began drinking on his 29th birthday -- the day before his arrest in Mercer County -- after learning that he needed surgery that would sideline him for months.

Police report

State police said Spadafora was a passenger in a car, which he stopped by thrusting the vehicle into park during an argument. Officers arrived to find Spadafora "highly intoxicated" and standing in the middle of the highway, police said.

Last month, Spadafora pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and a weapons violation in the shooting of Nadine Russo, 22, who is now the mother of his 5-week-old son, Geno. Authorities said Spadafora shot Russo once with a .38-caliber Smith & amp; Wesson handgun Oct. 26, 2003, because he was upset that she flattened two tires while driving his Hummer.

Two days before that shooting, Spadafora was arrested for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness after allegedly urinating on a downtown Pittsburgh street.

Spadafora last month had his bond revoked while awaiting sentencing in the shooting case and was jailed after a urine test indicated that he had used cocaine. Spadafora was to be returned to the Allegheny County Jail after Monday's court appearance in Mercer County.

Spadafora didn't comment Monday, but told Russo during a brief recess, "I need to get back to fighting."

In July, the ex-IBF lightweight champ stopped Francisco Campos in the third round to win his second consecutive fight since moving up to junior welterweight. Spadafora, who is undefeated, had given up his IBF 135-pound title in 2003 so he could move up to the junior welterweight division, where it would be easier to maintain his weight.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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