Johns gets probation, fine in April DWI case

Judge to ex-Oriole: `You're not above everything'

January 11, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Former Orioles pitcher Doug Johns was given one year's supervised probation, community service and a fine on charges of driving while intoxicated and drug possession yesterday in connection with his arrest in Baltimore after the club's Opening Day victory last April.

Johns, 32, was ordered by Judge Ben C. Clyburn of Eastside District Court to pay $1,525 in fines and perform 80 hours of community service. Reminding Johns that he's held to a higher standard because of his profession, Clyburn recommended that the left-hander visit a local school or community and "tell children what drugs can do to you."

"Think about what you are about to do to your career," Clyburn said. "The problem is, people make the big leagues and think they are above everything. You're not above everything."

Police stopped Johns on the night of April 5 and charged him with running a red signal and driving while intoxicated. A search of his Jeep Grand Cherokee turned up approximately nine grams of marijuana, leading to further charges of possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of paraphernalia.

Johns said a bag in the vehicle's console that contained marijuana and assorted paraphernalia belonged to a friend. He said he wasn't aware that it had been left in the Jeep after they played golf in December, a claim that the judge dismissed as "a little lame."

Scott D. Shellenberger, who represented Johns, questioned the results of a sobriety test administered at the scene. Johns, who's 6 feet 2 and 195 pounds, said he drank two beers within a six-hour period after leaving Camden Yards and was "shocked" when arrested. Johns also said his eyes were red and glassy because they were irritated from wearing contact lenses on a dry and windy day.

Johns also was arrested on Oct. 8 at the toll plaza of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Johns, who earned $300,000 last season, was delayed because he didn't have the $1 toll. Maryland Transportation Authority police arrested him after he allegedly blocked traffic, and a police drug specialist determined that Johns showed signs of marijuana intoxication. Johns was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana and obstructing a roadway.

Johns, who went 6-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 32 games last season, would have been eligible for arbitration this winter. He wasn't tendered a contract when the club needed to clear room on its 40-man roster for pitcher Buddy Groom and catcher Greg Myers, both signed as free agents. Wady Almonte also was non-tendered despite being the organization's minor league Player of the Year.

Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations, said last week that Johns could be signed to a minor-league contract. He also denied that legal troubles factored into the club's decision to remove Johns from the roster.

"I really hadn't even focused on that at all," Thrift said. "It was a roster thing. You're only allowed 40."

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