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Clemens risked prison when he rejected plea offer

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WASHINGTON (AP)

Roger Clemens rejected a plea deal that would have spared him prison time, and instead took his chances by going to trial.

Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin said in a telephone interview Thursday that prosecutors offered to let the former pitcher plead guilty to one count of lying to Congress when he denied using human growth hormone. In exchange, Clemens would have received probation.

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was indicted in August 2010 on six counts for allegedly lying to Congress for denying he used HGH as well as steroids. At the time, Hardin revealed that his client had rejected a plea offer, but the lawyer declined to provide the details.

In the interview Thursday, Hardin said his client was offered the deal in December 2009 and immediately rejected it.

''His reason was, `I didn't lie to Congress,''' Hardin said. On Monday, a jury in Washington acquitted Clemens on all counts.

Under U.S. sentencing guidelines, Clemens probably would have faced up to 15 months to 21 months in prison if convicted.

The first attempt to try Clemens last year ended in a mistrial when prosecutors played a snippet of video evidence that had previously been ruled inadmissible, and U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton indicated back then that Clemens was looking at jail time.

Explaining why he was calling a mistrial, Walton said, ''Because if this man got convicted, from my perspective, knowing how I sentence, he goes to jail. And I'm not going to, under the circumstances, when this has happened, put this man's liberty in jeopardy.''

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia declined comment.

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Follow Fred Frommer on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ffrommer

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