No pass for Plax in gun case
There was no “celebrity justice” for Plaxico Burress.Nine months after accidentally shooting himself at a Manhattan nightclub, the former Giants football star faces two years in prison after pleading guilty to a gun charge Thursday. Critics have bemoaned the seemingly soft treatment of celebrities in legal trouble, from Russell Crowe avoiding jail time on an assault charge and Lindsay Lohan serving just one day for multiple DUI run-ins to the infamous O.J. Simpson case, in which the football Hall of Famer was acquitted of doublemurder. But Burress’ sentence was as long as most expected. “The Manhattan district attorney’s office certainly did not treat Plaxico Burress as the hometown hero,” said Jeremy Saland, a former prosecutor. “He wasn’t treated more severely than any other denizen of the city under the same set of circumstances.” Burress, 32, was in the Latin Quarter nightclub in November when a gun in his waistband went off and shot him in the thigh. He did not have a permit for the gun in New York, and the one he had from Florida had expired. He pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and will be sentenced Sept. 22. He will likely go to Rikers Island before being assigned to prison and serve at least 20 months. Roy Marshall, 45, of Manhattan, said it was gratifying to see a celebrity treated the same way as anyone else. “Just because you have money doesn’t mean you’re above the law,” he said. Burress, who was released by the Giants in April, was also suspended by the NFL on Thursday for the duration of his sentence. His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, slammed the sentence, saying his client’s celebrity — and the publicity generated by the case, which included a condemnation from Mayor Michael
Bloomberg — actually worked against him. “I believe that the sentence is far too severe for the actions in question,” Brafman said in an e-mail. Burress would have faced a minimum of 3½ years if convicted of the original charges. Others echoed Brafman’s statements. “It’s excessive,” said Kimberly Summers, a defense attorney in Manhattan. “It’s an election year, and I think they’re paying attention to a lot of things right now.” A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who is not seeking re-election, declined to comment.