Clarett indicted on robbery charges
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State star tailback Maurice Clarett was indicted Friday on charges of robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, the latest setback for the player who helped the Buckeyes win the 2002 national championship.
Clarett is accused of flashing a gun and demanding property from a man and a woman early Jan. 1. Police said he got into a sport utility vehicle with two men after he was identified by the bar owner, who happened to come out into the alley.
No one was injured, and only a cell phone was taken, police said.
Clarett was charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and four lesser robbery counts, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said.
Clarett denied the charges in a statement issued by his lawyer, William Settina.
"Mr. Clarett intends to fight this indictment with the same vigor and resolve he displayed in taking OSU to a national championship," Settina said in the statement.
Clarett only would be sentenced on two robbery charges if convicted, but O'Brien said the extra counts are "backup charges" to give a jury options. Clarett would face up to 26 years in prison if convicted on the two most serious armed robbery charges.
Settina criticized O'Brien for calling a news conference to announce the indictment, saying it would make the selection of a fair and impartial jury more difficult.
O'Brien said he held a news conference in anticipation of strong media interest and to avoid spending a day returning individual calls.
Clarett, 22, was sought by police for almost two days before he turned himself in about the time the Buckeyes were completing a win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. He posted $50,000 bond and was released from jail.
Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as an Ohio State freshman in 2002.
His final touchdown, in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl, gave the Buckeyes a 31-24 upset of top-ranked Miami for the national title.
The prosecutor urged the two people who were reportedly with Clarett in the SUV to come forward. Authorities are continuing to search for them and have not identified them, O'Brien said. They could face charges of being accomplices.
"Their silence in our view speaks complicity as opposed to lack of knowledge that a robbery was going to occur," O'Brien said.
The indictment is the latest legal problem for Clarett.
He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after admitting that he lied when he claimed $10,000 in clothing, audio CDs, cash and stereo equipment were taken from his car in the summer of 2003.
Ohio State suspending Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
Clarett dropped out of Ohio State, then challenged the NFL's requirement that players wait three years after high school before turning pro. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court before Clarett lost.
In an interview with ESPN The Magazine in 2004, Clarett said coaches and boosters arranged for him to get passing grades, cars and thousands of dollars while at Ohio State. The allegations weren't verified, and Clarett never responded to NCAA requests to be interviewed as part of its investigation into Ohio State's athletic program.
After two years in limbo, he was taken in the third round by the Denver Broncos in last year's draft. He was cut in August.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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