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10-plus years prison term for ex-NFL, Ohio St QB Schlichter

6:35 PM, May 4, 2012   |    comments
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The painful saga of ex-Ohio State and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Art Schlichter came to a close Friday when a federal judge sentenced him to nearly 11 years in prison for scamming participants in what authorities called a million-dollar sports ticket scheme.

Schlichter, 52, had been down this road before, spending time in prison in Indiana related to his gambling addiction, which he claimed to have overcome. But he continued to struggle, by his own admission, and his stumbles included testing positive for cocaine use while on house arrest following his guilty plea in the ticket case.

The 127-month sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson in Columbus reflects both punishment for the ticket scheme and time for violating probation from Schlichter's 1997 forgery and theft conviction in Indiana.

Schlichter's original plea deal last year in federal court called for him to serve eight years in prison, to run at the same time as a 10-year state prison sentence on related charges. But Marion Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins in Indianapolis refused to cancel Schlichter's arrest warrant in Indiana until the extra time was added.

The new deal, which Schlichter agreed to in the fall, increased the federal time by 27 months. Watson signed off on the deal Friday before sentencing Schlichter. Assuming Schlichter earns federal good-time behavior credit, he'll serve just over nine years in federal prison, compared with just over seven under the original deal.

He'll still have a few months left on his state prison term at that point, although he'll also receive credit for jail time since his February arrest. State and federal authorities say Schlichter, whose NFL career was derailed by a gambling addiction, promised college and NFL game tickets, including the Super Bowl, but never delivered despite receiving thousands of dollars in payments.

Schlichter's road to Friday's sentencing was as bumpy as his playing career. After pleading guilty in the fall, Schlichter stayed free on house arrest pending sentencing and was allowed to attend weekly counseling. But in January, Schlichter was arrested after twice testing positive for cocaine and by refusing several times to provide urine samples. Watson postponed his sentencing and gave Schlichter more time to have his mental health assessed.

Schlichter has asked for prison drug abuse counseling once he's sentenced. One of Schlichter's victims in the ticket scheme was the widow of a former Wendy's Co. president, whose attorney said last year she had been ruined by Schlichter. Anita Barney's homes are being foreclosed and her only income is from Social Security, attorney William Loveland said.

Schlichter has said he is ashamed of his addiction. A federal bankruptcy filing by Barney last month listed a $2.3 million claim against Schlichter for fraud, embezzlement, theft and restitution. Schlichter played at Ohio State between 1978 and 1981 and in the NFL for the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills. His later went to prison for gambling-related crimes.

The Associated Press

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