Strawberry remains hospitalized after cocaine binge
Updated: Wednesday April 04, 2001 10:41 PM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Darryl Strawberry spent the four days he was missing doing cocaine with a female friend and armed men who took his jewelry and abandoned him in a motel room, the former baseball star told his probation officer Tuesday.
In a report to the judge who will decide if Strawberry will go to prison, Florida probation officials said Strawberry tested positive for cocaine use and violated the terms of his house arrest in his four-day foray.
The report, released late Tuesday, came as Strawberry continued to be held in a psychiatric ward at St. Joseph's Hospital while doctors evaluate him.
Under arrest for violating his probation, he will be sent to the Hillsborough County Jail and held without bail once doctors declare him mentally stable.
The probation report is the first official accounting of Strawberry's Thursday night disappearance from the drug treatment center where he was serving two year's house arrest.
Strawberry told his probation officer that he was picked up at the center by a woman from an Alcoholics Anonymous program named Beverly, who was supposed to take him to the meeting.
"... Instead she began smoking crack cocaine and he couldn't resist the temptation," probation officer Shelley Tomlinson wrote in her report. "He said she took him to a nearby motel where there were a total of five men who had guns and took his jewelry."
Strawberry said they continued to use cocaine until Friday, when the men -- who are not identified -- decided it was time to leave. The men took Strawberry with them as they drove around town and bought more drugs, the report said. The men later drove to a motel in Orlando, leaving Strawberry there when they eventually left.
Joe Ficarrotta, Strawberry's attorney, was not immediately available for comment on the probation report. Earlier in the day, Ficarrotta said he was relieved that Strawberry was located.
Neither the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office nor Strawberry's attorney know how long Strawberry will be at St. Joseph's Hospital, where he is undergoing a mental health evaluation before being sent to jail.
"It's a tough position for the judge to be in," Ficarrotta said. "Whether he relapses one time or 10 times, it's the same thing. It's whether you fight drug addiction by putting people in prison or do the right thing and get them the medical treatment they need."
Meanwhile, Strawberry's friends rallied around the troubled man, whose latest disappearance will send him back to jail and possibly to state prison.
In addition to his legal troubles, Strawberry also is undergoing an aggressive, experimental treatment for colon cancer.
"He wants to get himself clean, he wants to go on and live a normal life like everyone else," said Mark Kennedy, who once shared an apartment with Strawberry at the Tampa drug treatment center where the former slugger was serving two years house arrest.
"If he's told me once, he's told me 50 times: 'I wish I wasn't who I am,'" Kennedy said. "He says he wishes he was a regular guy."
Strawberry disappeared from Health Care Connection, where he was serving two years of house arrest on drug possession and solicitation of prostitution charges.
He also was on probation for a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident stemming from a September collision caused when he was driving under the influence of pain killers.
Strawberry resurfaced Monday when two friends went to Daytona Beach to get him and check him into the hospital.
One of those associates, Ray Negron, a Cleveland Indians consultant, said he visited Strawberry Tuesday.
"He's doing better today," Negron said. "He's doing OK and he's getting the care that he needs."
Negron said he has been fielding telephone calls from former teammates and friends who are concerned about Strawberry. Among them were Indians second baseman Robert Alomar and pitcher Bartolo Colon.