Ehlo pleads guilty to reckless burning

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11, 2013, 11:19 A.M.

Former Eastern Washington University assistant basketball coach and NBA veteran Craig Ehlo pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless burning in Spokane Superior Court on Wednesday morning.

Ehlo will receive credit for a day served in Spokane County Jail. The rest of his 363-day sentence will be suspended, per an agreement between prosecutor John Love and Ehlo’s defense attorney, Dennis Thompson.

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies arrived at Ehlo’s rural Spokane County home early on the morning of Aug. 1, where they found him being held down by family members near a pile of his burning clothes doused in gasoline. According to court records, the family had been involved in a dispute earlier in the evening, prompting prosecutors to seek a domestic violence intensifier on the charge of first-degree reckless burning, a felony.

Ehlo pleaded guilty to a second-degree burning charge Wednesday, a gross misdemeanor. If he abides court rules of behavior, Ehlo may petition the court after a year to have the conviction removed from his criminal record.

In documents filed last month, Ehlo admitted to past problems with substance abuse. An arraignment on the charges was pushed back by a Spokane Superior Court judge last month while Ehlo attended medical treatment in Massachusetts, according to court records. A previous court order prohibited Ehlo from returning to his home on East 77th Avenue or from having contact with family members.

Ehlo played 14 years in the NBA, drafted out of Washington State University by the Houston Rockets. He played in the 1986 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, and later guarded Michael Jordan in the first round of the 1989 playoffs when the future superstar hit “The Shot” to catapult his Bulls over Ehlo’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

After retiring following the 1997 season, Ehlo moved to Spokane, where he coached the Rogers High School boys basketball team. He later served as a broadcast analyst for the Seattle SuperSonics and Gonzaga Bulldogs before joining the EWU Eagles as an assistant coach. He resigned from that position in July.

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