Isaac Brekken / AP
Monday, Aug. 7, 2023 | 3:11 p.m.
Former Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Damon Arnette emerged from a Nevada courtroom Monday saying he hopes to play this season in the NFL, maybe with the Dallas Cowboys, after he resolved a felony 2022 gun case by pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.
“If I’m blessed enough to get another chance in the NFL, then I’m going to kill that,” Arnette told reporters after Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel sternly instructed him that as a result of his plea, he can’t have guns and can’t be around anyone who has a gun.
“I’ve learned a lot. I’m remorseful about everything,” the 26-year-old Arnette, who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, told reporters. “I appreciate and respect another opportunity. I’m a better man than I was.”
The former first-round draft pick by the Raiders in 2020 said he had an airline flight booked to Dallas to talk with that team about a contract. The Kansas City Chiefs released him last year from a reserve contract he had signed just days before his arrest in Las Vegas.
Israel last week balked at accepting Arnette’s written plea agreement and required Arnette to appear in person to enter his pleas to misdemeanor assault and possessing a gun “in a threatening manner” at a Las Vegas Strip hotel valet stand in January 2022.
Israel stuck with the terms of the plea deal and sentenced Arnette to 50 hours of community service, $2,000 in fines, surrender of the gun he had when he was arrested and to stay out of trouble for 90 days. Arnette faces up to one year in jail if he violates the agreement. The case will be closed if he complies.
“No guns means no guns,” the judge told him.
In court, standing in a black T-shirt and pants, Arnette kissed a string of beads around his neck while his attorney, Ross Goodman, and prosecutor Jory Scarborough met with the judge at the bench.
In the hallway, Arnette said the beads reflected his new religion, Santeria, or Way of the Saints. The belief, blending the Yoruba religion of West Africa and Catholicism, is popular in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.
Israel last week cited video recordings of the confrontation between Arnette and Las Vegas Strip casino valets over a parking receipt in January 2022, and previous allegations involving Arnette and guns three months earlier.
By admitting guilt to misdemeanors, Arnette avoided trial on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm, felonies that combined carry the possibility of up to 10 years in state prison.
Arnette was indicted last May after a grand jury in Las Vegas heard evidence that he held a .45-caliber handgun and threatened two hotel valets during an argument about a parking receipt at the Park MGM.
Las Vegas police stopped him driving his Mercedes SUV nearby and arrested him on suspicion of drug and gun offenses. Officers reported finding a gun in the driver’s side door and substances believed to be cocaine and marijuana. A passenger also was arrested with a handgun, police reported, but charges against that man were later dropped. Drug charges against Arnette were dropped last year.
Arnette played college football at Ohio State and was the second draft pick by the Raiders in 2020, behind Henry Ruggs.
Ruggs was involved in a fiery fatal crash while driving his sports car drunk on a city street at speeds up to 156 mph, according to police and prosecutors, just a week before Arnette was released by the team. Ruggs also was dropped by the Raiders.
Ruggs, now 24, pleaded guilty in May to felony DUI causing death and is expected to be sentenced Aug. 9 to three to 10 years in state prison under terms of a plea deal that avoided trial and the possibility of decades behind bars.