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Burress applies for work release; prosecutors likely to oppose

NEW YORK -- Former Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress wants to get a break from prison, but prosecutors said Tuesday they will likely try to block his bid for work release because he hasn't served enough time.

The former New York Giant applied for a work furlough -- which would let him spend some portion of his time at home -- on Nov. 25, about two months into his two-year sentence for carrying an unlicensed gun that went off and wounded him at a Manhattan nightclub. State prison system officials are expected to decide on his request next month.

Prosecutors said the bullet narrowly missed a security guard, and they insisted on at least a two-year prison term. A quick furlough would send "a very bad message," Manhattan Chief Assistant District Attorney Mark Dwyer said Tuesday.

"It's too early," he said.

Burress' lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment.

Statistically, Burress' effort is a long shot. Less than 5 percent of the more than 31,500 work release applications statewide were granted last year, according to the state Department of Correctional Services.

Under state law, inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses can apply for work furloughs within two years of their release dates. Burress pleaded guilty in August to a form of attempted criminal possession of a weapon that allows him to be eligible for work release, state corrections spokeswoman Linda Foglia said.

Officials deciding on furloughs weigh factors including the inmate's crime, his prison behavior and any opposition to the release, she said.

Burress, then a Giants receiver, was at the Latin Quarter nightclub in November 2008 with a .40-caliber gun tucked into his waistband. He later said he was concerned for his safety because a teammate had been held up at gunpoint elsewhere days before. The weapon slipped down Burress' leg and fired, injuring his right thigh.

The gun wasn't licensed in New York or New Jersey, where Burress lived; his Florida concealed-weapons permit had expired.

Sentenced in September, Burress is now being held in protective custody at an upstate prison because of his notoriety.

Inmates on work release generally get to spend several days and nights each week out of prison working and reconnecting with their families; the exact arrangements vary for each inmate. Some are allowed out full-time for the last few months of their sentence, Foglia said.

It's unclear what work Burress, 32, might do if given a furlough. The Giants released him in April, and the NFL has suspended him for the duration of his sentence.

Burress, who caught the Giants' winning touchdown over the New England Patriots in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl, has said he hopes to play again.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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