Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace was sentenced Tuesday to a year of probation but avoided jail time on drunken driving and gun possession charges stemming from a September traffic stop in suburban Detroit.
Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Shalina Kumar also sentenced Wallace to fines, court costs and 30 hours of community service.
”We want to treat Mr. Wallace as if his name is Ben Smith,” assistant prosecutor Robert Novy told Kumar. ”We’re not asking for jail time, but give Mr. Wallace a period of probation with a period of community service.”
Novy said having Wallace hold basketball clinics at an area Boys and Girls Club would suffice. Kumar agreed.
”You have all the resources in the world. This should not happen again,” she told Wallace, who is allowed to travel out of state and out of the country for work-related reasons while on probation.
Wallace did not speak Tuesday with reporters.
”I compliment both the prosecutor’s office and Judge Kumar for treating Ben Wallace exactly the same way they would have treated him had he not been a basketball player,” defense attorney Steve Fishman said.
Wallace was arrested at about 3 a.m. on Sept. 24 in Bloomfield Township after officers spotted him driving a Cadillac Escalade erratically. An unloaded pistol was in a backpack.
A breath test put Wallace’s blood-alcohol content at 0.14 percent, which is well above Michigan’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.
He pleaded guilty Nov. 1 to misdemeanor charges of drunken driving and possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol. The maximum penalty would have been 93 days in jail.
Wallace had no prior record and was cooperative with authorities.
”Plea bargains and sentences are supposed to be based on the facts of the case and the background of the individual defendant,” Fishman said. ”To everyone’s credit that is exactly what happened in this case.”
Wallace helped the Pistons win the 2004 NBA title and has played for five NBA teams since 1996.
He fared better in court than former NBA player and University of Michigan star Jalen Rose who spent 16 days in jail this summer on a drunken driving charge.
Rose rolled over his sport utility vehicle in March on a snowy West Bloomfield Township road. He pleaded guilty in May to driving while intoxicated and apologized for his actions.
But 48th District Court Judge Kimberly Small, who is known for being tough on drunken drivers, lectured Rose for 15 minutes before delivering her sentence. She told him that jail time was the ”right punishment” in his case.
Rose’s attorney, James Burdick, has said his client shouldn’t have been sent to jail.