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Former St. Petersburg College baseball coach gets four years probation

A former St. Petersburg College baseball coach avoided a potential prison term after prosecutors dropped three of four sex-related charges against him.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors in Orange County, Robert Francis, 33, pleaded no contest to the one remaining felony charge, transmitting material harmful to a minor. Adjudication was withheld, meaning he would not be considered a convicted felon if he completes all of his probation.

Police in 2011 accused Francis of flirting in an online chat with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, sending a nude photo of himself and driving to Orlando to meet her. But the "girl" proved to be an undercover officer.

Francis' attorney Lucas Fleming said the original four charges could have led to a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Also, he said, Francis has reserved the right to appeal his conviction on the sole remaining charge, based on entrapment. If Francis should win the appeal, he would not have to serve the probation.

Former St. Petersburg College baseball coach gets four years probation 11/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 5:33pm]
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