NEW YORK, N.Y. - New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton was arraigned on two felony weapons possession charges in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday.
The arraignment followed an early morning arrest after a lawyer for his wife turned in a loaded semi-automatic handgun allegedly belonging to the basketball star to a police precinct, claiming she no longer wanted it in their home, authorities said.
Wearing a black sweatshirt with a peace sign and other symbols on it, Felton was seemingly upbeat as he appeared before Judge Diana Boyar, nodding affirmatively after he was ordered to stay away from his wife, Ariane Raymondo-Felton. He did not enter a plea, which is common for this stage in the case.
"Mr. Felton has no interest in having contact" with her, one of his lawyers, James Walden, told the judge. Court records show she filed for divorce from Felton last week.
Felton was released on $25,000 bail and was ushered into a black SUV following his arraignment. Under the terms of his bond, Felton can travel to games, bail bondsman Ira Judelson said.
Prosecutors said they were told Felton stored the Belgian-made FN Herstal model handgun in the home from August through February. A lawyer for Felton's wife, a student at Fordham University School of Law, dropped off the weapon at a stationhouse on Manhattan's upper West Side on Monday evening, shortly before tipoff of the Knicks game against the Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden, police said.
The gun had 18 rounds of live ammunition in its magazine, which can hold about 20 rounds, prosecutors said.
He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and criminal possession of a firearm. The firearm charge is punishable by up to four years in prison. The weapons charge is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The section under which he was charged concerns having a large-capacity ammunition magazine.
Police had arrested Felton on charges that included a mid-level weapons-possession charge that can entail having a loaded gun outside one's home or business or having a loaded gun with the intention to use it against someone. The DA's office didn't comment on why prosecutors chose the charges they did; it's not uncommon for charges to change between arrest and arraignment.
Investigators reached Felton by contacting the director of security at Madison Square Garden after his wife made a statement to detectives Monday night, police said. Felton turned himself in at 12:50 a.m. Tuesday, not long after the Knicks' buzzer-beater loss to Dallas, police said.
The former University of North Carolina star made no statement after he arrived at the precinct with a lawyer, police said.
A Knicks spokesman has said the team had no immediate comment. An attorney for Raymondo-Felton didn't comment. The Knicks had no game scheduled Tuesday.
Felton had eight points and seven assists Monday in the Knicks' 110-108 loss to Dallas. The Knicks brought the point guard back for a second stint in New York in July 2012, opting to let Jeremy Lin leave, and Felton helped the Knicks win the Atlantic Division last year.
But he has had a disappointing season, averaging 10.4 points and shooting 40 per cent while missing 16 games with a series of injuries. He has been frequently criticized by fans as the Knicks have fallen to 21-36.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league was monitoring the case. It could fine or suspend Felton, but usually waits until after the legal case has been resolved.
The league did break from that policy to suspend Gilbert Arenas for the remainder of the season after he brought guns to the Washington Wizards' locker room during the 2009-10 season. He was eventually sentenced to 30 days in a halfway house.
Felton is not the first pro athlete to run afoul of New York's strict gun laws. Plaxico Burress was a New York Giants wide receiver when he was arrested in 2008 after accidentally shooting himself in a Manhattan nightclub. He served two years in prison.
Fighter Robert Guerrero was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport last year after he presented a locked gun box containing an unloaded handgun during check-in. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay a $250 fine and complete 50 hours of community service.
In other high-profile cases, multiplatinum-selling rappers Lil Wayne and Ja Rule both were arrested in Manhattan, separately, on gun-possession charges in their vehicles after leaving the same concert they had both played in 2007. Both pleaded guilty to attempted gun possession charges; Lil Wayne spent about eight months in a city jail; Ja Rule served most of a two-year prison sentence.
Felton is set to earn $3.8 million next season and has a player option that would pay him $4 million in 2015-16. The Knicks could attempt to void the contract, but that would likely be challenged by the players' association.
Associated Press writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this story.