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Bucs' Bowers pleads to reduced gun charge

The Bucs caught their first break of the 2013 season, and it came far from the gridiron.

Felony weapons charges against third-year defensive end Da'Quan Bowers were dropped in his gun-possession case in New York, with the presumptive starter left with only a disorderly conduct violation after a deal on Thursday with Queens prosecutors.

By pleading guilty to the much-lesser charge, Bowers avoids jail and significant penalties. If found guilty of the original charges, Bowers was facing significant prison time.

Bowers' attorney, Dennis Coppin, who appeared with Bowers in Queens County court, said Bowers was responsible for only a $250 fine and court costs of $120, which he addressed.

Bowers will have no criminal record, Coppin said. In New York, a "violation" is not treated criminally, making it tantamount to a speeding ticket, according to the attorney. Coppin said Bowers' taking the gun into LaGuardia Airport on Feb. 18 was an honest mistake stemming from his ignorance of New York's stringent gun laws.

The gun was legally purchased in Florida, Coppin said, and unintentionally brought into the city in checked luggage when Bowers and his girlfriend arrived days earlier. He said he discovered the gun after their arrival and attempted to declare it to authorities before boarding his return flight.

"The D.A.'s office did a full and fair investigation," Coppin said in a phone interview. "… (Bowers) had no intent whatsoever. He gave the firearm to the first TSA officer he saw. It was a total mistake and the prosecution, thankfully, saw that."

Cases involving out-of-state visitors caught with firearms in New York airports are common, attorneys say, and often result in drastically reduced charges. Bowers was initially charged with two counts of criminal possession in the second degree, a crime that comes with a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years and maximum of 15 years in state prison.

That's the same charge that then-Giants receiver Plaxico Burress faced and he was sentenced to two years in prison in 2009. It appears Burress' circumstances were much less innocent than Bowers', something that he and his lawyer pinned their hopes on.

The Bucs' optimism since Bowers' arrest suggested club officials were confident of a favorable outcome. The Bucs made only a minimal effort to retain starting left end Michael Bennett, who signed with the Seahawks. That left Bowers as the likely starter, assuming his case was resolved and did not prevent him from playing.

The Bucs are counting on Bowers to team with right end Adrian Clayborn, who is returning from a knee injury, to improve an inconsistent pass rush.

Bowers was thrilled.

"He was very happy that they looked into his case and gave a fair decision," Coppin said.

The NFL could consider discipline against Bowers, but the lack of a conviction and the apparent lack of intent should be enough to avoid further discipline.

Around the league

Revis running: Darrelle Revis, a Jets cornerback targeted by the Bucs for a possible trade, started to run again as he rehabilitates from a torn knee ligament. The three-time All-Pro, who tore his left ACL last season, is shown running on a treadmill — with a contraption on his upper body that relieves 30 pounds of pressure — and doing drills in a segment on NFL Network that aired Thursday.

Internet star signs: The Lions signed kicker Havard Rugland, a Norwegian who made his name with an internet video. His trick-shot video — called "Kickalicious" — was posted in September and has more than 2.7 million views. Rugland, 28, never played college football and was an amateur soccer player in Norway. He'll compete with veteran David Akers, signed last week.

Hurd guilty: Former receiver Sam Hurd pleaded guilty to trying to buy cocaine and marijuana to set up a drug-distribution network. He faces 10 years to life in prison when he is sentenced in July in federal court in Dallas.

Elsewhere: The Colts signed free-agent linebacker and Army lieutenant Josh McNary, who hasn't played in two years while fulfilling his military obligation. … The Patriots re-signed receiver Julian Edelman. … The Saints and offensive tackle Jason Smith agreed to a one-year contract. … The Ravens and former Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain agreed on one year for the league minimum of $700,000 plus incentives, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@tampabay.com. Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Bucs' Bowers pleads to reduced gun charge 04/11/13 [Last modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:32pm]
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