L.T. Gets 18 Months Probation

Lawrence Taylor was sentenced today to 18 months probation in a drug case, but a judge told the Hall of Fame linebacker he could cut the time in half.

If Taylor has no problems during the first nine months, he can petition to terminate his probation and erase his record, Circuit Judge Lauren Laughlin told the former New York Giants player.

A condition of probation is monthly drug testing. Taylor also was fined $1,059 in court and investigative costs.

Taylor, 40, of Saddle River, N.J., had nothing to say during the brief hearing and declined comment afterward, as did his lawyer Robert Nutter.

Taylor, an admitted drug abuser who has undergone extensive rehabilitation, pleaded no contest Nov. 30 to buying crack cocaine from an undercover police officer on St. Pete Beach. He also was charged with possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia in the October 1998 incident.

Defense lawyers tried unsuccessfully to get the case thrown out, contending police used an informant to set up Taylor, preying on the ex- football great because of his history of drug abuse.

Informant Clemente Brown said Taylor approached him when he was in town for a charity golf tournament and asked if Brown could help find crack.

Brown told police, who later listened in as he called Taylor at his hotel to set up the deal. At first Taylor put Brown off.

A few hours later an uninvited Brown knocked at Taylor's hotel room door with an undercover police officer posing as his wife. When Taylor held up a $50 bill, the officer provided the crack and Taylor was arrested.

He also had a highly publicized drug arrest in South Carolina.

In 1996, Taylor was charged with trying to buy crack. He cleared his record by performing 60 hours of community service and agreeing to undergo drug counseling and random drug testing.

Taylor, who helped the Giants win two Super Bowls during a 13-year career, 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.

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