Joiner arrested, charged after early-morning incident
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Safety Tony Joiner is the eighth Florida player in the last nine months to get in legal trouble, a growing concern for the defending national champions.
Joiner, a senior captain and defensive leader, was arrested early Tuesday and charged with felony burglary, police said.
Joiner, who ranks fifth on the team with 20 tackles, was arrested around 5 a.m. outside the fenced impound lot of a local towing company, Gainesville police said.
But the owner of the property leased by the towing company, Stan Forron, said Tuesday afternoon that the whole thing is a misunderstanding.
Joiner was accused of pushing a heavy electric gate open to enter the lot in an attempt to retrieve his girlfriend's car, which was being held in lieu of a $76 towing bill, a police report said.
Joiner was taken to the Alachua County Jail and later released on his own recognizance.
Forron said Joiner had made arrangements to pay the towing bill and pick up the car. But when Joiner arrived, no one was around to help Joiner.
"I don't know if he was late or early or what," said Forron, who plans to urge the state attorney's office to drop the charges. "I don't understand why he was arrested. Is it a crime? Yes and no. It's kind of my fault because I left the gate open.
"It's like going to breakfast at Cracker Barrel and when you go to leave there's no one there to take your money. How long are you going to wait?"
Forron acknowledged that he is a Gators fan, but he insisted that it had no bearing on his desire to see the charges dropped.
"I came forward because right is right and wrong is wrong," Forron said. "I don't think he should be in trouble."
According to the police report, witnesses said Joiner opened the gate to the towing company, got into a car, drove out of the lot and was trying to close the gate when he was confronted by one of the witnesses. The witness said Joiner drove back into the lot and waited for police to arrive.
The arresting officer, Robert Concannon, wrote that Joiner was talking on a phone when he walked up. Concannon said he heard Joiner say, "I am probably about to go to jail 'cuz I did push the gate open."
Joiner told the officer he had intended to pay the towing bill, but got impatient, the report said.
Coach Urban Meyer was aware of Joiner's arrest and planned to address it after practice Tuesday.
Joiner's arrest is the latest in a long list since Florida won its second national championship in January.
Offensive lineman Ronnie Wilson was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor in April following a gun incident near campus. Wilson pleaded no contest to battery and discharging a firearm and was suspended indefinitely from the team.
Linebacker Dustin Doe was charged in April with fighting in public after a brawl at a downtown parking garage. The misdemeanor charge was later dismissed.
Safety Jamar Hornsby had a sworn complaint filed against him in April after he allegedly tossed a man onto the hood of a woman's car in a parking lot.
Safety Dorian Munroe was charged with felony theft in May when he removed a University Police boot from his car and put it in his trunk. The charge was later dropped.
Safety John Curtis was arrested in May on a probation violation stemming from his failure to complete five days of community service for an alcohol possession charge.
Cornerback Jacques Rickerson was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in May. His case was resolved without legal punishment. Running back Brandon James faced a similar charge in June. He was sentenced to six months' probation and community service.
Rickerson and James were suspended for Florida's season opener.
Joiner could be suspended for Saturday's game at No. 1 LSU.
Meyer had to deal with other high-profile incidents before the national title, too.
In February 2006, wide receiver Kenneth Tookes accidentally fired a gun into an occupied apartment, while receiver Andre Caldwell and cornerbacks Reggie Lewis and Dee Webb stood nearby. And defensive tackle Marcus Thomas was dismissed from the team last season after failing three drug tests.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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