White Sox stand by Tony La Russa after guilty plea to lesser charge in DUI case

Cassandra Negley
·3 min read

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and will avoid jail time in the case stemming from his DUI arrest 10 months ago on a freeway in Phoenix, the Associated Press reported.

La Russa was facing two charges of driving under the influence and agreed to plead guilty to reckless driving. The plea agreement was originally submitted on Dec. 9.

On Monday in Maricopa County Justice Court the 76-year-old was sentenced to one day of home detention, fined $1,383 and required to complete 20 hours of community service.

La Russa lawyer: Manager ‘deeply regrets’ mistake

La Russa’s lawyer, Larry Kazan, said the manager underwent alcohol counseling after the arrest in February.

“Mr. La Russa knows he made a mistake last February and deeply regrets it," Kazan said in the statement. “He is embarrassed and concerned. He knows what he did was wrong.”

Kazan made sure to note the charge was reduced “because Mr. La Russa was found to be over the legel threshold by a small amount.” A Maricopa County court spokesman said reduced terms on a plea agreement such as this one are common and likely wouldn’t have anything to do with the person’s status, per Jon Seidel of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The max sentence was four months in jail and/or a $750 fine, Seidel said. The increased fine is reportedly for fees and court costs.

La Russa’s arrest details

Tony La Russa at the ballpark.
Tony La Russa will serve one day of home detention rather than jail. (Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

La Russa was arrested after a witness saw him swerving on the road and called police. He reportedly had a 0.095 blood alcohol concentration, above the legal limit of 0.08. Additional details of the arrest were reported in November and proved more detrimental in the eye of public opinion. He reportedly asked the officer “Do you see my ring?” and bragged about being a baseball Hall of Famer.

It’s the second DUI arrest for La Russa, who pleaded guilty in an incident that happened in spring training in 2007.

White Sox stand by La Russa

The charges came on Oct. 28, one day before the White Sox announced La Russa, who had been retired, as their new manager. The team acknowledged to ESPN they were aware of the situation before his hire, but declined to comment.

The White Sox made a statement on Monday standing by La Russa.

“With today's announcement, Tony La Russa accepted responsibility and has been held legally accountable for his poor behavior and the questionable choices he made last February. The White Sox understand the anger and concern expressed by some about hiring Tony under these circumstances.

“Tony has expressed to us his remorse, and he understands he brought this on himself.

“We understand that people make mistakes and exercise poor judgment in life. In this case, Tony is fortunate his decisions that night did not injure himself or anyone else. We also believe people deserve the opportunity, at all points in their lives, to improve. Tony knows there is no safety net below him. There cannot be a third strike.

“Tony has a proud and productive history with the White Sox and Major League Baseball, which is why we are standing by him. He has done his job exceptionally well in the past. He has always shown an ability to inspire his players and to bring his teams to a championship level. We are confident that Tony will improve our team, while improving himself.”

La Russa last managed an MLB team in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won two World Series with St. Louis and a previous one with the Oakland Athletics. It was a surprise hire after the White Sox let go of Rick Renteria.

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