Clarett could move to secure facility

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State Buckeyes football player Maurice Clarett is in county jail and awaiting a judge's decision on Wednesday that would release him to a community-based correction facility after spending 3½ years in prison.

Clarett, 26, was convicted on charges of aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that Clarett, who led the Buckeyes to the national championship in 2002, was moved from a Toledo prison to the county jail in Columbus on Monday and would meet on Wednesday afternoon with Judge David Fais, who handled his original case.

O'Brien said he expected the judge to allow the former tailback to be transferred to a secure facility in Columbus where he would be evaluated for possible release within six months. O'Brien described the facility as one which has barbed-wire and is residential, but is not a lock-down institution.

Clarett pleaded guilty in September 2006 to having a gun hidden in his SUV and holding up two people outside a Columbus bar in a separate case. He was sentenced to 7½ years in prison with possible release in 3½ years.

Messages seeking comment from Clarett's attorney, Michael Hoague, were not immediately returned after business hours Tuesday.

A star as a freshman at Ohio State, Clarett, a standout running back from Warren, Ohio, was declared ineligible after one season for receiving extra benefits that were brought to light after he filed a false theft report about a car break-in. He never played another college game after scoring the winning touchdown in Ohio State's 31-24 double-overtime win over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes' first national title since 1968.

After he was ruled ineligible, Clarett sued the NFL in September 2003 to be permitted to enter the league's draft. At issue was the NFL's rule denying anyone to be drafted who has not been out of high school for three years. After an initial court victory, Clarett lost on appeal.

He eventually was drafted in the third round of the 2005 draft by the Denver Broncos, but was cut before the season started.

On Jan. 1, 2006, Clarett was charged with aggravated robbery after police said he flashed a gun at people outside a bar and robbed them of a cell phone. Then, on Aug. 9, Clarett was arrested after a chase when police said that they tried to stop him for a traffic violation.

O'Brien said he had no doubt that Judge Fais would release Clarett to the community-based facility because of the conditions of Clarett's guilty plea and his good behavior at Toledo Correctional Institution the past 3½ years. O'Brien also said he would not oppose Clarett's move.

A typical assessment at the facility takes a maximum of six months, and at that time if Clarett had met employment, housing and other requirements he would most likely be released into the general public, O'Brien said.

Clarett has been taking college-credit courses in the Toledo prison, where he was confined to a single cell but was not isolated from other inmates. He was able to exercise and eat with other inmates.

At the time of his plea, Hoague said of his client, "He was up here," raising his arm to eye level. "He got down here," he said, lowering his arm to his waist. "And he's going to be back up here again."