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Published: Friday, 11/18/2005

Crowe pleads guilty to assault in phone-tossing incident

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) Russell Crowe pleaded guilty today to third-degree assault, admitting to a judge that he threw a phone that hit a Manhattan hotel concierge in June.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Kathryn Freed sentenced the actor to a conditional discharge, which means he must not get arrested for one year.

The judge also instructed Crowe to pay a $160 court surcharge, which defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt said would be paid immediately.

If he had been convicted of more serious charges initially filed against him assault and criminal possession of a weapon Crowe could have lost his right to work in the United States and might have faced seven years of prison time.

Crowe, 41, who won the Academy Award for best actor in 2001 for Gladiator, has also starred in such films as A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man.

He was arrested after flying into a rage in June when he had trouble calling his wife in Australia from his room at the Mercer Hotel in Manhattan s SoHo district.

Crowe, who stood still and erect, told the judge today that he did throw the phone, striking the concierge.

The actor s only words in the courtroom were when he answered yes to a number of questions from the judge about the incident at the hotel.

My client has admitted he overreacted and he is very happy to have this resolved and move on with his life, Lefcourt told the judge. The attorney said Crowe was traveling home to Australia later today.

Assistant District Attorney Chad Sjoquist told the judge the prosecution agreed to the plea deal because Crowe had no prior criminal record.

The actor exited briskly out the back of the courtroom before jumping into a large black sport utility vehicle that sped away.

On Aug. 25, Crowe said in a statement that he had reached a settlement with the concierge, Nestor Estrada. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The actor also had publicly apologized on the Late Show with David Letterman shortly after the incident, saying it was possibly the most shameful situation that I ve ever gotten myself in in my life, and I ve done some pretty dumb things in my life.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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