DADE CITY — Two women saw each other at a softball tournament on Sunday. They chatted briefly.
The next day, one of the women pleaded guilty to setting the other woman's belongings on fire.
"There's to be a new start," the first woman, Pamela Reynolds, told the court on Monday. "Hopefully that will work out for the best."
It all goes back to that driveway bonfire of women's clothes and football memorabilia last year in Lake Jovita.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ricky Reynolds and his wife of 20 years, Pamela, split up last year. Then she returned early from an out-of-town trip on Aug. 26, 2007, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and found another woman's suitcase in their home.
It belonged to Lori Smith, her estranged husband's new girlfriend. The former Buc and the couple's three children were bowling with Smith at the time.
Then the estranged wife called to say she had set Smith's belongings on fire — along with some mementos from her husband's football career.
Reynolds told deputies she found the other woman's suitcase in their bedroom, a violation of their no overnight guests rule.
But her husband said he was just storing it there. He had planned to find a hotel room for his guest.
Firefighters put out the blaze on the circular brick driveway and gave Pamela Reynolds an illegal burn warning. At first Smith declined to prosecute, then changed her mind after talking to Pamela Reynolds.
"She had no remorse," Smith told deputies then.
Pamela Reynolds was then charged with felony criminal mischief. She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor criminal mischief on Monday.
The plea bargain called for Reynolds, 41, to be sentenced to a year's probation, 24 hours of community service and $3,000 restitution.
The judge withheld adjudication, sparing her from having a misdemeanor conviction on her record.
Smith said her laptop computer, Rolex watch and the birth certificates of her three children were destroyed in the fire.
Ricky Reynolds, who played cornerback for the Bucs and Patriots, lost the first football he intercepted in his NFL career and the first football he scored with.
Pamela Reynolds left court without comment. Ricky Reynolds and Lori Smith could not be reached for comment Monday.
The two women spoke on Sunday, Pamela Reynolds told the judge. But Smith is still suing Pamela Reynolds in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, alleging that bad publicity from the incident caused her to lose her job and damaged a business she had started in Ohio.
The Reynolds' divorce was finalized last month. Smith is now living with the former Buc in Lake Jovita.
Pamela Reynolds, who now lives in North Carolina, plans to take care of her community service and pay restitution this week, her lawyer said.
"It's nice to see people acting as adults," said Reynolds' attorney, Robert Fraser.
Jamal Thalji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.