N.Y. turns down Burress’ request for work release
NEW YORK – Former New York Giants Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress has come up short in his bid for work release during his two-year prison sentence in a gun case, a denial that could keep him behind bars until at least next spring, prison officials said Tuesday.
The state Department of Correctional Services said the nature of his November 2008 crime merited turning down his request for a work furlough, which would have let him spend some portion of his time free and working. Burress can appeal the decision but otherwise can’t reapply for a work furlough until June 6, 2011, the date he comes up for potential full release if he gets time off for good behavior.
“The serious and negative impact illegal guns have on the community coupled with (the) dangerous nature of the weapon discharging in a public place renders him unsuitable for work release,” the agency said.
Burress’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.
For now, the wide receiver remains in protective custody, because of his notoriety, at a prison in the central New York community of Oneida.
The work release request was Burress’ second since he started serving his sentence last September. Such requests are rarely successful – less than 2 percent of the nearly 27,000 applications received last year were granted, New York prison system spokeswoman Linda Foglia said.
Burress, 33, pleaded guilty last year to attempted criminal possession of a weapon.
The case began when Burress went to the Latin Quarter nightclub with a .40-caliber gun tucked into the waistband of his track pants. He later said he was concerned for his safety because a teammate had been held up at gunpoint days before.
The weapon slipped down Burress’ leg and fired, injuring his right thigh. Prosecutors said the bullet narrowly missed a security guard.
The gun wasn’t licensed in New York or New Jersey, where Burress was living, and his Florida concealed-weapons permit had expired. He also failed to report the incident to authorities.
The prison system hasn’t released any letters written to officials about Burress’ latest work release attempt, but the Manhattan district attorney’s office said it had opposed his request.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has ruled that Burress would be reinstated and eligible to sign with a team upon completing his sentence. But the NFL is facing uncertainty about its 2011 season, with the possibility of a lockout looming if players and owners can’t agree on a new contract. The current contract expires after this season.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese has said the team will keep its options open with Burress, who caught the winning touchdown for the Giants over the New England Patriots in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl. And some of his former teammates seem ready to welcome him back: Halfback Brandon Jacobs went to training camp one day this summer sporting a custom-made T-shirt saying “Free 17 Let Him Ball Out,” a reference to Burress’ No. 17 jersey.
Burress has had a satisfactory record in prison, with one “misbehavior report” that cost him a week of phone privileges and 30 days of recreation privileges, Foglia said. A corrections officer said Burress had lied last November about having permission to use the phone to call his lawyer at a time when calls aren’t permitted, the report shows.
Burress also has completed an anger management program behind bars, Foglia said.
– AP sportswriter Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report.