Penguins Forward Before Parole Board

Friday, February 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Billy Tibbetts appeared before a state parole board hearing officer Thursday who will determine whether Tibbetts violated his parole when he punched an opponent during a game.

If the hearing officer in Pittsburgh believes Tibbetts violated his parole and Massachusetts officials agree, they could petition a court to revoke it. In that case, Tibbetts could be ordered to serve the remainder of a 3-to-5-year sentence on a Massachusetts sexual assault conviction in 1994.

Tibbetts had no comment as he entered the hearing with Penguins general manager Craig Patrick and didn't speak to reporters afterward. Tibbetts also did not return a message left at a hotel where he is staying.

Tibbetts punched Atlanta's Darcy Hordichuk as he stood in the bench area during a Jan. 27 game. Tibbetts has already served three games of a four-game suspension imposed by the NHL, meaning he could return at Minnesota on Feb. 11.

A hearing officer for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole will make a recommendation to Massachusetts authorities, where Tibbetts is on parole.

Tibbetts is being supervised by the Pennsylvania parole board under an interstate compact, said James McCarthy, spokesman for the Massachusetts Parole Board.

Pennsylvania officials decided to hold Thursday's parole hearing after the incident, though it was not requested by Massachusetts. The hearing officer will prepare a report and forward it to Massachusetts authorities for any further action, McCarthy said.

Tibbetts was convicted in Massachusetts of raping a 15-year-old girl in 1992 when he was 17, McCarthy said. He received a suspended sentence of 3-to-5 years in prison and four years of probation, McCarthy said.

A month later, Tibbetts received a suspended 6-month sentence and 18 months probation for assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and intimidating a witness, McCarthy said.

In a later incident, Tibbetts was arraigned in July 1995 for assault and battery with a BB gun, McCarthy said.

Tibbetts was found guilty on the 1995 assault and battery charge and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. He was also ordered to serve the rape sentence at the same time for violating probation in that case, McCarthy said.

Tibbetts began serving his sentence in September 1996 and was paroled on the rape charge after 37 months in prison in October 1999, McCarthy said. If Tibbetts had his parole revoked, he could be ordered to serve the rest of his maximum 5-year sentence.

Any recommendation the Pennsylvania hearing officer makes to Massachusetts will not be made public unless a warrant is issued for Tibbetts' arrest, McCarthy said.

The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole does not release recommendations by hearing officers, board spokeswoman Jennifer Hitz said.

A Penguins spokesman declined comment and Patrick did not return telephone calls to The Associated Press. Calls to the NHL Players Association also were not returned.

McCarthy said he knows of no incident in his 25 years with the parole board that a professional athlete has faced a possible parole violation for conduct in a game.