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  • Sunday, August 13, 2000

    Pens sign player with criminal record

     PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Billy Tibbetts, a forward who was out of hockey for more than three years before signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, served 21/2 years in prison and has a lengthy criminal record in Massachusetts.

     "He's got a record, for sure," Penguins general manager Craig Patrick said.

     Tibbetts pleaded guilty March 30, 1994, to raping a 15-year-old girl at an outdoor drinking party in Scituate, Mass. He was 17 at the time.

     Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Cortland Matters called the crime "brutal" but did not sentence Tibbetts to jail. Instead, he was given a suspended sentence of 3 to 5 years and four years of probation.

     On April 27, 1994, he was given a suspended sentence of six months, 18 months probation and was fined $625 on charges of assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and intimidating a witness.

     Tibbetts was arraigned again July 12, 1995, in Hingham (Mass.) District Court for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a BB gun. He was found guilty and sentenced to 21/2 years in prison. He also was found to have violated his parole.

     According to the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, he was paroled Oct. 29, 1999.

     Tibbetts has played one full season since 1994, yet Patrick said several NHL teams wanted to sign him after he was paroled last year. Pittsburgh got him several months ago.

     "We just got in there before anybody else," Patrick said. "Actually, a few people called me and were upset that we beat them to the punch."

     Tibbetts likely will start the season at the Penguins' Wilkes-Barre-Scranton or Wheeling farm clubs.

     In his only full professional season, Tibbetts had 37 goals, 31 assists and 300 penalty minutes in 58 games for the Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League in 1995-96.

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