A multistate plea deal aimed at resolving charges that retired Saints safety Darren Sharper drugged and raped or attempted to rape nine women in four states is not yet etched in stone, according to a legal filing Friday from federal prosecutors.
The prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to push back a hearing scheduled for Thursday , as well as a June 8 trial date, for 60 days, citing the need for more time to iron out an agreement with Sharper’s attorneys.
Plea talks with Sharper “are ongoing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McMahon wrote. “A failure to grant this continuance would force the defendant to go to trial in the middle of his attorneys’ efforts to resolve the case by guilty plea.”
McMahon added that he has told Sharper’s lawyers that if the former All-Pro goes to trial, “a superseding indictment will be presented to the grand jury adding other count(s).”
According to the filing, Sharper’s attorneys have agreed to the delay. Billy Gibbens, one of those attorneys, declined to comment Friday.
It’s unclear whether the move signals any kind of hiccup in the “global” plea deal that was expected to keep Sharper in prison for at least nine years, followed by lifetime probation.
That deal, under which Sharper pleaded guilty in March in California, Arizona and Nevada, also contemplates guilty pleas under separate federal and state indictments in New Orleans.
Here, Sharper, 39, faces federal counts of conspiracy to drug women with the intent to commit rape, along with co-defendant Brandon Licciardi, a former St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy.
Sharper, Licciardi and former Morton’s Steakhouse waiter Erik Nunez also face state counts that include aggravated rape, which carries a life prison sentence.
Neither Milazzo nor Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman has signed off on the deal.
It’s possible that prosecutors have asked for the delay to await the results of a probation report that would indicate a sentencing range for the three federal counts that Sharper faces.
Sharper pleaded not guilty in April to charges that he and Licciardi conspired to distribute the drugs sold as Ambien, Xanax and Valium with the intent to commit rape beginning at least as early as January 2010, and that he did it on two specific dates: Feb. 2, 2013, and Sept. 23, 2013.
The two aggravated rape counts that Sharper faces in state court stem from an incident at his Tchoupitoulas Street condo on the latter date involving two women, one of whom was a Saintsations cheerleader.
Sharper has remained behind bars since his arrest in Los Angeles in January 2014. He is now being held in Louisiana.
A star defensive player during the Saints’ historic Super Bowl championship season, Sharper retired from the team after the 2010 season.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.