(This Feb 6 story has been refiled to clarify that attribution to spokeswoman in paragraph 2 was removed in update)
(Reuters) – Former professional basketball star Dennis Rodman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years’ informal probation on Monday on charges that he drove the wrong way on a California highway, forcing another car to swerve into a concrete dividing wall.
Rodman was also sentenced to 30 hours of community service and ordered to donate $500 to a victim witness emergency fund, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.
Rodman’s attorney, Paul Meyer, said in an emailed statement: “We appreciate the careful review of the district attorney to make the right call.” Meyer said the incident was caused by “poor sign placement” on the roadway.
Prosecutors initially charged Rodman, 55, with hit-and-run that causes property damage, driving a motor vehicle across a dividing section, giving false information to a police officer and driving without a valid license.
Rodman, a National Basketball Association forward with teams including the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, drove his sport utility vehicle the wrong way on Interstate 5 in Santa Ana early on July 20, prosecutors said.
The driver of a sedan going the correct way swerved to avoid a head-on collision with Rodman’s SUV and slammed into a concrete wall along the carpool lane, prosecutors said. Meyer said the crash was documented as a non-injury collision.
The driver of the sedan called 911 and California Highway Patrol officers responded. When they arrived, Rodman had driven away, prosecutors said.
Investigators determined Rodman was the SUV driver but when they eventually spoke to him, he gave false information about the incident, prosecutors said.
The hit-and-run charge was later discharged after the court accepted a civil compromise between Rodman and the victim, prosecutors said. Rodman pleaded guilty to the remaining three misdemeanors on Monday afternoon in an Orange County Court.
The district attorney’s office said Rodman was ordered to pay restitution as part of his sentence, but Meyer said the restitution had already been deemed completed.
Rodman, nicknamed “The Worm” during his playing career, is considered one of the best defensive players and rebounders in NBA history. He won five league championships with Detroit and Chicago and is a member of basketball’s Hall of Fame.
He was convicted at least twice of driving under the influence, in 2000 and 2004, according to media reports at the time.
Rodman made international headlines in 2013 by visiting North Korea, where he socialized with the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Diane Craft and Peter Cooney)