Pete Rose Pleads Guilty to Felony Tax ChargesJOE KAY , Associated Press
Apr. 20, 1990 6:47 PM ET
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Former baseball star Pete Rose pleaded guilty Friday to two charges of filing false income tax returns, prompting a prosecutor to call it ''a sad day for those young Americans to whom Pete Rose was an idol.''
Baseball's all-time hit leader, who was banned for life from the game last year amid gambling allegations, faces a maximum six-year prison term and fines totaling $500,000.
Rose was free on his own recognizance while U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel awaits a pre-sentence investigation, which take four to six weeks. A sentencing date will be set at that time.
As part of a plea bargain, the government agreed to press only the two charges, even though Rose admitted to offenses over a four-year period, according to court documents. Rose has paid the Internal Revenue Service $366,043 in back taxes, interest and penalties.
''This is a very sad day for major league baseball, a very sad day for the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, certainly a very sad day for Mr. Rose and his family, but particularly a sad day for those young Americans to whom Pete Rose was an idol,'' U.S. Attorney D. Michael Crites said.
Rose, accompanied by two lawyers, admitted he failed to report $354,968 in income from autograph appearances, memorabilia sales and gambling. He later appealed to fans to forgive him and, even as a possible jail term hung over his head, asked to baseball writers to vote him into the Hall of Fame.
''There's no question that my baseball records earned me a place, but I understand that the Hall of Fame means more than 4,256 hits,'' Rose said, in a statement released by his publicist.
''In a year and a half, the baseball writers will have to make the decision about whether or not I'm worthy of the Hall, and I hope they'll understand that the mistakes I made off the field were caused by my gambling disorder.''
Rose, who was banned from participating in baseball last Aug. 23 by the late Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, said he has been diagnosed as having a gambling disorder and is getting psychiatric counseling.
''Compulsive gambling makes you less than honest about your life,'' he said. ''Part of you knows that something's wrong, so you hide what you're doing. Sometimes even I didn't remember what the real story was anymore. Life today is certainly better without gambling.''
The former Cincinnati Reds player and manager stood straight, his hands folded in front of him, during the half-hour hearing Friday in a courtroom crowded with reporters.
Spiegel went through a required set of questions before accepting the guilty plea, and Rose answered, ''Yes, sir,'' in a clear tone to each question.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns by failing to report income under an agreement with prosecutors that allowed him to avoid indictment.
Crites, the prosecutor, denied claims that Rose had received a ''sweetheart'' deal because of his celebrity. Crites said prosecutors did not try to bring more serious charges of tax evasion against Rose because they didn't think they could prove them. A grand jury has been investigating Rose's taxes for a year.
Crites declined to say whether the government will make a sentencing recommendation to Spiegel.
Rose pleaded guilty exactly 14 months to the day he was first summoned to the baseball commissioner's office to be questioned about his gambling. Two of Rose's former associates and a convicted bookmaker have said Rose bet on his own team - an allegation Rose denied even though he accepted baseball's penalty for that offense.
Rose is eligible to apply for reinstatement this August. If Rose does, Commissioner Fay Vincent will have to decide whether to let him back in.
Vincent declined comment Friday on whether Rose's guilty pleas would have a bearing on his reinstatement.
''I don't want to speak to that,'' Vincent said. ''I haven't really had time to think about it. Even if I came to a conclusion, I doubt I would make a public comment.''