Lance Armstrong has pleaded guilty to careless driving related to an Aspen accident in which he drove his SUV into two parked vehicles after a party. He entered the guilty plea via mail, as Chad Abraham reports for the Aspen Daily News. Charges of failing to report an accident and driving too fast for conditions were dismissed as part of a plea deal, Abraham writes.
As this blog reported, Armstrong initially let his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, take the blame for the Dec. 28 accident to avoid national attention. Hansen admitted to lying for him, telling police at the time that she was driving because Armstrong had been drinking, and saying she lost control of the GMC Yukon while driving them home from an Aspen Art Museum event. But after further questioning, Hansen admitted to police on Dec. 31 that she had been the passenger and that Armstrong had been driving when the car accident happened. Abraham writes:
By pleading guilty and paying the fine by mail, Armstrong will not have to appear in court. A March hearing date had been set. The district attorney’s office has 90 days to file for restitution on behalf of the people whose rental cars were struck in late December.
The case is “essentially closed,” now that Armstrong’s lawyer sent the 9th Judicial District a check to cover the fine and court costs, Abraham writes. The check was for $238.50 to cover court fees and a $150 fine, according to Associated Press, as Adam Wells writes for Bleacher Report. The District received the check on Monday, Abraham writes. “According to the guilty plea, four points are to be assessed to Armstrong’s driver’s license,” he writes.
Abraham writes that Hansen was correct when she assumed that Armstrong’s involvement in the Colorado accident would be widely covered in the media. “Given Armstrong’s infamous past of lying about using performance-enhancing drugs and having his seven Tour de France titles stripped, the December incident, first reported by the Aspen Daily News, quickly gained worldwide legs,” Abraham writes.
In a related news item, an arbitration panel in Texas has ordered Armstrong to pay a $10 million penalty to SCA Promotions, Brent Schrotenboer reports for USA Today. The penalty is “believed to be the largest such sanction against an individual in American judicial history,” Schrotenboer writes. The Dallas sports insurance company paid Armstrong’s bonuses for winning the Tour de France and then helped to expose his crimes, Schrotenboer writes, including “perjury and other wrongful conduct” to gain millions of dollars of benefits. “[SCA] suspected Armstrong had cheated to win the race and didn’t want to pay him if he did,” he writes. Armstrong is also defending himself against the federal government in another fraud lawsuit that could cost him nearly $100 million, Schrotenboer writes.
Image by Richard Masoner