MISSOULA, Mont. -- Suspended New York Yankees reliever Steve Howe was sentenced Tuesday to three years probation, given a $1,000 fine and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service as the result of pleading guilty to a charge of attempted possession of cocaine.
After making a plea-bargain deal with the prosecution, Howe pleaded guilty on this charge last spring and got off on one charge for possession.
A spokeswoman for the Montana Federal Court said the left-hander, who has been suspended from baseball permanently after his seventh violation of the major leagues' drug policy, must pay the costs of his probation supervision. Howe may not consume or possess any alcohol or drugs during his three-year period. If Howe violates any of the probationary standards, his presiding officer could file additional complaints to the court and more fines and/or time could be tacked on the probation period.
Howe, 34, was arrested in Kalispell, Mont., near his offseason home, Dec. 19, 1991, as part of a federal drug investigation after attempting to buy two grams of cocaine. Authorities allege he bought the drug sometime between late November and his arrest.
Initially, Howe was charged with attempted possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine. The charge of possession was dropped under the plea-bargain reached in April.
Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent on June 8 suspended Howe indefinitely but made it permanant after an arbitrator ruled he had to impose specific terms. The suspension is the seventh of Howe's career.
Howe had acknowledged the probability of a suspension when it became known he would be pleading guilty. However, he filed a grievance over the suspension and a hearing was conducted by arbitrator George Nicolau.
The suspension was costly to Howe as the Yankees no longer have to pay him. He had a guaranteed contract of $600,000 but incentives could have boosted that to $2.3 million.
Howe pitched well following his return to the major leagues last year. He appeared in 20 games this season and was 3-0 with six saves and a 2.57 ERA. Opposing hitters batted only .127 against him.