Dukes gets probation for marijuana possession charge

By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published September 28, 2007

TAMPA - Inactive Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes pleaded no contest in Hillsborough County Court on Thursday to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

County Judge John Conrad withheld adjudication in the case and sentenced Dukes, 23, to one year probation and 50 hours of community service, plus drug testing.

Dukes was charged with marijuana possession after he was pulled over by Tampa police Jan. 15 in Ybor City. A drug-sniffing dog reacted to his car, and authorities said a search revealed a bag with about 2 grams of the drug in a center console.

Conrad gave Dukes permission to complete his probation requirements by mail and without meeting with a probation officer. Dukes plans to leave Oct. 10 for the Dominican Republic to play winter baseball.

The judge also told Dukes that he could terminate his probation after six months, if he completes all his requirements.

Dukes and his estranged wife, NiShea Gilbert, are going through a divorce. During a hearing Tuesday where the two discussed custody of their two children, Dukes said he has become overwhelmed and stressed by his legal problems. He said he's ready to put it all behind him and focus his attention on baseball.