Taylor Pleads No Contest

Lawrence Taylor pleaded no contest to charges he bought crack cocaine and probably will be sentenced to 18 months of probation.

After first arguing that police entrapped him, Taylor decided not to fight charges of buying crack cocaine, possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Circuit Judge Lauren Laughlin withheld a finding of guilt against the Hall of Famer, charged with buying the drug last year while in St. Pete Beach for a celebrity golf tournament.

Laughlin's ruling means Taylor would have no criminal record in this case if he successfully completes probation. Laughlin, who said the 18-month probation was likely, set sentencing for Feb. 1, and ordered Taylor to pay about $1,250 in court costs and the cost of the police investigation.

Asked why he changed his plea from innocent, the 40-year-old Taylor said as he left the courthouse, "I'm not answering nothing."

Taylor was arrested on similar charges two years ago in South Carolina. He enrolled in a program that enabled him to clear the charges from his record by completing 60 hours of community service and submitting to drug counseling and random drug testing.

Taylor's lawyer, Angelo Ferlita, earlier asked the judge to dismiss the charges, insisting the former linebacker was entrapped by police. Ferlita said police used an informant to set up Taylor, preying on the retired football star because of his history of drug abuse.

The plea came during a pretrial hearing. Police informant Clemente Brown took the stand and said Taylor approached him to buy drugs.

Ferlita did not dispute that. However, he tried to portray Brown as a cocaine addict who hoped to score more drugs from Taylor. And when he didn't, he went to police and offered to set up the ex-player, Ferlita said.

Taylor, of Saddle River, N.J., was charged in October of 1998 in St. Pete Beach.

"You don't take drugs to somebody's hotel room at two in the morning when they have a drug addiction," Ferlita said.

Taylor, who helped the New York Giants win two Super Bowls during a 13-year career, also underwent rehabilitation for a cocaine problem in 1985. He was suspended by the NFL two years later for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

The informant who helped police make the arrest said in a deposition that Taylor approached him when he was in town for a charity golf tournament.

Brown said the relationship started when Taylor introduced himself and asked if Brown could help find crack cocaine.

After Brown informed St. Pete Beach police, investigators listened in as Brown telephoned Taylor at his hotel on Oct. 18, 1998, to set up the deal.

Taylor was nervous because police had stopped him earlier in the day and at first he put Brown off. Several hours later, an uninvited Brown knocked at Taylor's dor with an undercover police officer posing as his wife.

After a discussion, Taylor held up a $50 bill and the officer provided the crack. Taylor was then arrested.

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