Falcons' Babineaux receives probation in drug possession case

Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux will avoid jail time for his Dec. 10 drug-possession arrest, according to the *The Atlanta Journal-Constitution*

In a plea deal reached July 14, a felony charge of marijuana possession was reduced to three misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession in Gwinnett County Court, according to Babineaux's agent, Jack Bechta, and his attorney, Patrick McDonough.

Babineaux, a five-year NFL veteran, pled no contest and was sentenced to 12 months of probation and a $1,500 fine on one count. The two additional misdemeanor counts were suspended contingent on Babineaux successfully completing probation.

"As long as he does what he's supposed to do, pays his fines and doesn't get in trouble ... the other 24 months would be suspended," McDonough said Tuesday morning. "He was very excited to put this behind him so he can focus on what he's really good at: football.

"I do not know his position with the league," McDonough added. "I am hopeful that with a no-contest misdemeanor charge that they will treat it accordingly. But I'm not privy to what the NFL is doing."

Babineaux is believed to be a first-time offender under the league's substance-abuse policy.

Following the arrest in December, Babineaux said he was sorry "for being a distraction" to the team.

"I want to apologize to Mr. (Arthur) Blank (the owner), coach (Mike) Smith and (general manager) Thomas Dimitroff and also the fans, most importantly," Babineaux said Dec. 16. "I'm embarrassed to be standing here in front of you guys, but as you guys are all aware, it's an ongoing legal matter and I can't talk about it or answer any questions. Thank you."

A Gwinnett County police report stated that Babineaux told officers he was smoking marijuana while driving with a friend. Police said they found about 1½ ounces of the drug in Babineaux's car.

Babineaux started all 16 games for the Falcons in 2009 and had 47 tackles and six sacks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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