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Ex-Steeler Stuvaints pleads guilty to scrap with police

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 7:15 a.m.

When a former Pittsburgh Steeler pleaded guilty on Tuesday to fighting with McKeesport police last summer, he did so in handcuffs.

Russell Stuvaints, 32, of White Oak entered Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III's courtroom on his own volition, but was placed in handcuffs by sheriff's deputies because he was nearly an hour late for his 9 a.m. trial.

“This is not the first time he was late,” a court officer scolded defense attorney Laurie A. McKinnon when Stuvaints had been led out of the courtroom by the deputies.

Stuvaints, who arrived wearing a black T-shirt, blue jeans and work boots, was still cuffed more than two hours later when he finally went before the judge and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to two years of probation.

Stuvaints was arrested on July 17 when he allegedly threatened a woman on Eden Park Boulevard, then fought with two police officers who ordered him to leave the area. Police had to use a Taser on Stuvaints to subdue him.

In return for the guilty plea, the state withdrew three additional charges of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

“I didn't think this would happen to me. I guess it's the best thing I could do,” Stuvaints said to the judge. When the judge asked him if he was pleading guilty because he is, Stuvaints said, “I'm pleading guilty because I don't want to go to jail.”

Asked a second time by the judge if he was guilty, Stuvaints responded affirmatively.

McKinnon told the judge Stuvaints is employed in construction and is a productive part of the community.

“My client is very remorseful for his actions. They are completely out of his character,” she told the court.

Stuvaints' trial, originally scheduled for Feb. 27, had been continued on two previous occasions. Prior to Stuvaints' arrival in court, McKinnon had indicated that another continuance was likely.

As deputies led him from the courtroom to be released, Stuvaints said it was he who had originally summoned police to the scene where he was arrested.

Stuvaints played for the Steelers from 2003-2005 and was a member of the Super Bowl XL championship team.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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