Plea averts trial for co-defendant in Sharper drug-rape case
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The final defendant in the federal drug and sex assault case against disgraced former NFL star Darren Sharper pleaded guilty Friday in a deal that calls for a 17-year prison sentence.
Brandon Licciardi, a former deputy in St. Bernard Parish outside New Orleans, admitted he conspired to distribute drugs with the intent to commit rape. He also will plead guilty to state sex trafficking and rape charges involving the same victims, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McMahon said.
Former restaurant worker Erik Nunez pleaded guilty this week to the same federal conspiracy charge, seeking a sentence of 10 years or less, and will plead guilty to state charges of sexual battery in an agreement worked out with the New Orleans District Attorney, court documents show.
All their sentences would run concurrently under the deals presented to U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo. She's expected to rule Oct. 13 after a pre-sentence investigation.
Sharper might have spent as little as nine years in prison under his multi-jurisdiction plea deal, but Milazzo rejected that sentence as too lenient. He now faces a possible 15-to-20 years. It remains unclear how much his agreement to testify against his co-defendants will affect his sentencing on Aug. 18.
The public image of Sharper, a popular member of the only Saints team to win a Super Bowl, has been shattered by allegations that he drugged and raped as many as 16 women in Arizona, California, Nevada and Louisiana.
He had been selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times during a career that included stints with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. He played in the Super Bowl with the Packers as a rookie and again with the Saints in 2010.
His 14-year career ended the next year and he was working as an NFL network analyst when women began telling police in several cities similar stories, of blacking out while drinking with him and waking up groggy to find they had been sexually abused.