Former Saints safety and convicted serial rapist Darren Sharper likely will spend 15-1/2 to 20 years in prison under terms of a new plea agreement unveiled Tuesday (March 22) in New Orleans’ federal court. That’s substantially higher than the nine years Sharper had first faced.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo last month rejected as inadequate that nine-year federal prison term in Sharper’s initial global plea agreement with the U.S. government and four states. Milazzo accepted a new guilty plea from the former football star on Tuesday.

Under the new deal, Sharper will more closely conform with federal sentencing guidelines that recommend 188 to 235 months for the drug conspiracy and distribution violations to which he admitted guilt.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McMahon, who read the supplemental plea agreement aloud while standing next to Sharper and defense attorney Billy Gibbens, said the government was making no specific recommendation of how much time Sharper should serve.

But McMahon said the government might recommend leniency when Sharper is sentenced June 16, if his cooperation proves helpful in the upcoming trial of Sharper’s alleged accomplices Brandon Licciardi and Erik Nunez. Sharper’s co-defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, are scheduled for trial May 12 in Milazzo’s federal courtroom.

“Mr. Sharper has agreed to cooperate,” McMahon said. “We may bring to the attention of the court his cooperation, if we deem that to be substantial. We are not bound to make such a notice to the court. That’s going to be within our discretion. No promises have been made, but the possibility is there.”