Bell to serve jail time
Newly acquired Toronto Maple Leaf Mark Bell is headed to jail, Sportsnet has learned.
Bell pleaded guilty in a San Jose courtroom Tuesday to charges of drunk driving causing injury and hit and run.
The Leaf forward, picked up in the Vesa Toskala trade with San Jose in June, will be sentenced to six months in a Santa Clara, California, county jail to be served at the end of this upcoming season.
There's a reason for that.
Bell was acquired in a three-team deal back on July 10, and a few days later he received a three-year contract that paid him $2-million last season. On Sept. 4, 2006, the Sharks forward was driving a rented 2003 Toyota sedan that rear-ended a 1981 Datsun pickup at 1 a.m., leaving the 40-year-old driver of that vehicle with head injuries and lacerations.
Bell had fled the scene of the accident but was located a short distance away, sitting on the curb, and police administered "chemical tests." His blood-alcohol level was reportedly at .15 or more, considerably above the legal limit.
Mark Bell's 27-years-old as of early August and this was an incident that, from reports of those close to him, affected him profoundly. He had originally plead not guilty to the charges.
This is allegedly the third incident of this nature for Bell, however, as he was arrested as a junior player in Ottawa on assault charges (along with teammate Nick Boynton) for beating up a cab driver and subsequently hit with a DUI in Virginia as a 20-year-old playing in the AHL.
There's a history there. And given he's now facing six months in prison following the end of the Leafs' 2007-08 season, there's surely going to be a sideshow surrounding Bell all year, questions regarding what exactly happened and how it will affect his play this season.
Bell's a local boy, a native of nearby St. Paul's, Ontario, and the hometown pressure is often enough to derail even the straightest of shooters. One can only imagine what kind of distraction this type of off-ice situation will create for one of the Leafs' newest additions.
Bell will be the team's fourth highest-paid forward this season.
UPDATE Bill Watters is reporting on Leafs Lunch this afternoon that Bell still has to be sentenced, that he will serve jail time, but the length of that sentence has yet to be determined.
UPDATE A California prosecutor has stated today that Bell will receive a six-month sentence during sentencing in October.
UPDATE It's possible, and quite likely, that Bell will serve less time through some sort of work program. I'm afraid I don't have the details on how this works, but it seems he will only be in the county jail for somewhere in the neighbourhood of four months.