Ex-NBA superstar Steve Francis just pled not guilty to breaking into a BMW in a restaurant parking lot in Florida and pilfering it for money, jewelry and makeup ... TMZ Sports has learned.
As we previously reported, Francis was locked up in Manatee County, FL over the alleged incident which went down back in June outside of the Cortez Clam Factory.
Francis allegedly asked the restaurant bartender for a flashlight -- and then raided the 2003 Beamer he'd been casing ... taking more than $1,700 in stuff.
He turned himself in last week.
Francis was not in court to enter the plea -- his lawyer did it for him. But it's a big deal for Francis. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years behind bars.
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