Originally created 07/17/02

Iverson released after arraignment



PHILADELPHIA -- Allen Iverson was arraigned Tuesday on charges he stormed into a cousin's apartment with a gun and threatened two men while looking for his wife. He was released on $10,000 bond after 11 hours in custody.

Wearing a white T-shirt, a haggard-looking Iverson appeared in court via closed-circuit TV as he sat in a detention block at police headquarters.

No plea was entered for the 76ers' star guard, although Iverson's lawyer told the court his client would plead innocent.

The brief hearing came after a long day behind bars for Iverson, who surrendered about 5:30 a.m. to face charges of assault, making threats and carrying a gun without a license.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of more than 50 years, although lawyers not involved in the case said he is unlikely to serve jail time even if convicted.

He appeared on screen for about three minutes and did not speak, except to answer "yes" to acknowledge his presence when called on by bail commissioner Abraham Polokoff.

Iverson was whisked away from police headquarters minutes after Polokoff ordered him released on unsecured bond pending a July 22 court appearance. He wasn't required to post any money, but would be liable for the cash if he failed to appear in court.

The court set no restrictions on his movements while he awaits trial.

"The plea Mr. Iverson (will enter) is a very strong and definite 'not guilty.' I want everybody to hear that loud and clear," said his attorney, Richard Sprague.

Iverson left his $2.4 million home in suburban Philadelphia before dawn in a convoy of sport utility vehicles and a minivan. The tempestuous guard had been confined there since Thursday.

His arrest created a circus atmosphere outside headquarters. Hordes of reporters and photographers awaited the latest news, fans gathered to show support, children sold lemonade and an outlandish group of radio-station listeners chanted "Free A.I.! Free A.I.!" through a bullhorn.

Iverson was fingerprinted and photographed, and took his place in a long line to appear before the bail commissioner. Police said he was separated from other prisoners but got no special attention.

"He's known nationally. He's known globally. So obviously there is a safety factor if you put him in a room with another prisoner," said William Colarulo, a police inspector.

No matter the outcome in court, Iverson faces possible action from NBA commissioner David Stern, who has suspended him in the past.

Under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, Iverson would be automatically suspended for a minimum of 10 games if convicted of a "violent felony." Stern could also take more drastic action.

Stern also has the authority to fine or suspend him even if the charges are dropped, based on a standard conduct clause in players' contracts.

Sprague, a former Philadelphia prosecutor who has represented F. Lee Bailey and was chief counsel for the House committee that investigated the assassinations of President Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, declined to talk about Iverson's case with reporters.

Iverson's uncle Gregory Iverson also turned himself in at dawn to face charges that he accompanied Iverson the night of the alleged assault. He was released on the same terms as his nephew. His attorney, Guy R. Sciolla, said he intends to plead innocent.

Iverson is accused of throwing his wife, Tawanna, out of the mansion during a fight earlier this month, then barging into his cousin's apartment with a gun the next night and threatening Charles Jones, 21, and Hakim Carey, who is 17.

As a teenager, Iverson was arrested in Virginia in 1993 after a brawl and spent four months in jail before he was granted clemency by the governor. The conviction was later overturned. In 1997, Iverson pleaded no contest to gun possession.

Iverson has squabbled several times with 76ers coach Larry Brown and made an unreleased rap CD in which he used derogatory terms for women and gays.

Through it all, Iverson remains enormously popular. His 76ers jersey is the league's top seller, and Reebok last year gave Iverson a lifetime extension of his 10-year, $50 million endorsement contract.