Garcia's attorney says client will accept deal

BOSTON -- Two former New York Yankees players who allegedly assaulted a Fenway Park groundskeeper during the 2003 American League Championship Series could have charges against them dropped if they perform community service and possibly undergo counseling.

Prosecutors planned to propose at a Tuesday court hearing that
Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia perform 50 hours of community service and undergo an anger management evaluation. They also want the two to complete any approporiate counseling within six months.

If those requirements are completed, the assault and battery charges would be dismissed, Suffolk district attorney's spokesman David Procopio said Monday evening.

Nelson, 37, now plays for the Texas Rangers. Garcia, 28, was released this August from the Baltimore Orioles.

Garcia's attorney, Gerard Malone, said his client would accept the offer, which must still be approved by a judge.

"We're taking it," he said. "This is a good result and I think it's a fair result. My client has always stated that he was coming to the aid of his teammates from what he thought was a fan. ... This doesn't really belong in the criminal system."

James Merberg, who represents Nelson, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Monday evening.

Prosecutors said they considered a number of factors, including the players' lack of any prior criminal records and their "histories of family and community involvement."

"While sufficient evidence exists to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the conduct of Nelson and Garcia does not merit criminal convictions," the district attorney's office said in a statement.

Prosecutors were expected to make their proposal at a hearing Tuesday in the Roxbury division of the Boston Municipal Court Department. If Nelson and Garcia don't accept the deal, they case is expected to go to trial.

Charges were dropped last week against Paul Williams, 25, of Derry, N.H., a part-time groundskeeper who got into the brawl with the two players. Suffolk district attorney Daniel Conley said a review found there wasn't enough evidence to back up a cross-complaint brought by Nelson against Williams, who teaches special education at a middle school in New Hampshire.

The fight broke out after Williams cheered for the Red Sox while in the bullpen during a rowdy Game 3 of the series on Oct. 11, 2003. Earlier in the game, a bench-clearing melee broke out after Garcia was plunked by Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez.

In February, Williams sued the players for more than $33,000 for medical bills, lost wages and loss of his sense of smell. He said the fight left him with a deviated septum, broken teeth, a neck injury and cleat marks on his body.