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Cansecos turn down plea

©Associated Press
August 24, 2002

MIAMI -- Former American League MVP Jose Canseco and twin brother Ozzie declined a plea offer Friday, choosing to go to trial on charges from a nightclub scuffle on Halloween.

The charges against Jose Canseco carry a maximum sentence of 31 years; Ozzie Canseco faces up to 17 years. The brothers said they are innocent, and can't accept a plea deal that requires guilty pleas.

"I was not brought up a liar," Jose Canseco told Circuit Judge Leonard E. Glick. "I would rather spend 31 years in prison than lie and compromise myself."

Jose Canseco, who played for the Rays from 1999-2000, faces two felony counts of aggravated battery with bodily harm and one misdemeanor battery count. Ozzie Canseco is charged with one felony count of aggravated battery and two misdemeanors.

The trial was set for Nov. 4.

Under the offer, the Cansecos, 38, would plead guilty to the original charges, but the felony charges would not have gone on their records. He would have received five years' probation with a chance of early termination after three years, and 250 hours of community service. Ozzie Canseco was offered three years' probation and 200 hours of community service.

Both would have undergone anger management counseling, agreed to stay away from the victims and witnesses in the case, and split $1,089 in restitution.

Jose Canseco said the Miami Beach fight started when "the date I had was viciously grabbed and attacked from behind."

The Cansecos angered Glick last week when Jose failed to appear and Ozzie was 20 minutes late. Jose Canseco said he missed the hearing because of a deviated septum operation in California.

"I wasn't sure exactly when I had to be in court," he said when asked why he had surgery then.

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