WASHINGTON, January 16- Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas pleaded guilty in Superior Court on Friday to a felony charge of carrying an unlicensed pistol, which should mean jail time for the three-time NBA All-Star.The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years behind bars but prosecutors are recommending Arenas serve no more than six months as part of a plea bargain to obtain an admission of guilt that puts his NBA career at risk.
Arenas admitted bringing four guns to the Wizards locker room on December 21 but faced only one charge under terms of the deal. However, judge Robert Morin will not be bound by the six-month limit when he sentences Arenas on March 26.
"He accepted full responsibility for his actions, acknowledged that those actions were wrong and against the law, and has apologized to all who have been affected by his conduct," Arenas lawyer Kenneth Wainstein said in a statement.
Arenas, on indefinite suspension by the NBA, was released until sentencing after surrendering his passport and being instructed not to possess handguns of any sort.
"Playing with firearms is no joke," US Attorney Channing Phillips said. "Today’s guilty plea to a felony count of carrying a pistol without a license reflects the seriousness and grave risk of such conduct.
"We commend Mr. Arenas for accepting responsibility and hope he fully appreciates the gravity of his actions."
The guilty plea leaves his NBA career in limbo, opening the door for the Wizards to void his 111 million-dollar contract and dump the four years on it, although the club gave no hint of doing so in a short reaction statement.
"We are deeply saddened and disappointed in his actions that have led to the events of this afternoon," the statement said. "Gilbert used extremely poor judgment and is ultimately responsible for his own actions."
Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton argued over gambling losses during a card game on a flight December 19, when Crittenton said he should shoot Arenas in his often-repaired knee.
Two days later, Arenas put four guns on a chair near Crittenton’s locker with a note saying "Pick one" in what he later called a joke.
Arenas told authorities that Crittenton pulled a gun of his own in the locker room. Police searched Crittenton’s apartment on Thursday but seized no evidence. Authorities said a probe into Crittenton’s actions is ongoing.
Arenas was suspended indefinitely last week by NBA commissioner David Stern after using his fingers as pretend pistols and firing at teammates before a game, Stern calling Arenas "not currently fit to take the court".
"I’m a goof ball and that’s what I am, so even doing something like this, I’m going to make fun of it and that’s how I am," Arenas said in a Twitter message about the incident.
Arenas, found guilty of possessing an unregistered gun in 2003, said he brought the guns to the locker room to keep them out of reach of his children and was unaware doing so violated not only NBA rules but strict gun laws in the US capital.
The Wizards took down a banner outside their arena featuring Arenas and dropped "Agent Zero" from a pre-game video.
Even jerseys bearing his number zero are no longer on display in the souvenir shop, a vanishing act for the once most marketable Wizard.
Arenas, 28, played just 34 games since signing his Wizards contract, largely because of knee injuries. He was averaging 22.6 points and 7.2 assists a game this season for Washington, which at 12-25 is last in the Southeast division.