CINCINNATI, JULY 19 -- Baseball great Pete Rose, banned from the game for life last summer after an investigation into his sports gambling activities, today was sentenced to five months in federal prison for filing false income tax returns.
U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel also ordered that Rose's prison term be followed by a year of supervised release, with the first three months being spent in a community treatment center or halfway house.
During the year, Rose will be required to perform 1,000 hours of community service at Cincinnati public elementary schools and at a Cincinnati boys club. He also will be required to continue receiving psychiatric treatment for his admitted gambling addiction. In addition, he was fined $50,000, to be paid immediately, and ordered to pay $100 in special assessments.
Rose, 49, who holds 19 major league records and is the game's all-time career hits leader, can appeal the sentence, but said he does not plan to.
"I accept my punishment," he said in a statement. " . . . I will serve my sentence, pay my debt to society and get on with my life."
Barbara Pinzka, who is handling Rose's public relations, said he also has no plans to apply for reinstatement to baseball in "the foreseeable future."
He is entitled to make that application on, or anytime after, Aug. 24, the first anniversary of his banishment.
"That hasn't been discussed for a long time," Pinzka said. "No decision has been made about when or if he will do that."
A possible reinstatement bid and the issue of whether Rose will be elected to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in January of 1992 are the only matters left unresolved after a 17-month ordeal that included investigations by federal agents and baseball, an ugly court battle between Rose and the game's late commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti, and the professional demise of one of the most gritty and celebrated baseball players in history.
The Pete Rose who appeared before a packed courtroom today in a dark, double-breasted suit, white shirt and red necktie was a far cry from the Pete Rose who went before the television cameras last Aug. 24. Even as he was being banned for life from the game that had been his life, he remained defiant in his contention that he did not bet on baseball and that he had done "my part to get into the Hall of Fame."
Today, before Spiegel imposed sentence, Rose told the court:
"I would like to say that I'm very sorry," Rose said. "I'm very shameful to be here today in front of you.
"I think I'm perceived as a very aggressive, arrogant type of individual, but I want people to know that I do have emotion, I do have feelings and I can be hurt like everybody else, and I hope no one has to go through what I went through the last year and a half. I lost my dignity, lost my self-respect, lost some great fans and almost lost some very dear friends."
Sounding as if he was going to break down and cry, Rose continued:
"I have to take this opportunity to thank my wife for giving me so much moral support during this ordeal. It had to be very tough on her when your 5-year-old son would come home from school and tell her his daddy is a jailbird.
"I really have no excuses because it's all my fault, and all I can say is, I hope somewhere, somehow in the future I'm going to try to make it up to everybody that I disappointed and let down."
"I hope he does make it up," said Terry Lynam, one of the Washington attorneys who helped John Dowd investigate Rose for baseball. "It's too bad. It really is. I mean, jeez, no one enjoys this kind of situation for someone like Pete Rose. But sometimes you have to step up and admit responsibility. That's what he did."
Spiegel recommended that Rose serve his sentence at the Ashland (Ky.) Federal Correctional Institution Camp, a minimum-security facility about three hours from Cincinnati. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will make a final determination about where Rose is assigned.
Spiegel released Rose on personal recognizance, but set the start of his prison term for Aug. 10 at noon. Rose is scheduled to have arthroscopic knee surgery Friday, and his recovery period may have some bearing on when he will actually relinquish his freedom.
Rose reached a plea agreement on the tax charges in April. Prosecutors said his tax returns for the years 1984 through 1987 were false, that a combined total of nearly $355,000 in income went unreported and that the government lost nearly $163,000 as a result.
Rose pleaded guilty to one count involving his return for 1985 and one count involving his return for 1987. He also paid more than $366,000 in restitution and penalties. Still, he faced a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
Because the sentencing system for tax offenses committed in 1985 differs from the one for tax offenses committed in 1987, it was possible Rose would have been considered a first-time offender only for the offense committed in 1985. That would have made him subject to a harsher penalty for the offense committed in 1987, and thus subject to a harsher overall penalty.
Instead, Spiegel imposed concurrent sentences on the two counts "so that Mr. Rose will not be penalized twice for the same activity." Spiegel then used the system applicable to 1987, so he would have full control over what those concurrent sentences would be.
"I have concluded that Mr. Rose must serve some time in a prison setting . . . in order to maintain respect for the law and as a deterrent to others who might consider cheating on their taxes," Spiegel said.
" . . . We are also fashioning his sentence to recognize the fact that during his career he has been unselfish, helping others, particularly children both on and off the ball field. . . . The sentence will require Mr. Rose to return to his roots in the inner city during his supervised release in order to help children there make something of themselves and to encourage them to work to succeed in their goals with the same determination and dedication that he did in his own life."