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Clarett pleads not guilty to robbery charges

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State running back Maurice
Clarett pleaded not guilty to charges that he flashed a gun at two
people behind a bar on New Year's Day and took a cell phone.

Prosecutors allowed Clarett to enter his plea on robbery charges
Tuesday with the clerk's office, avoiding his arraignment in court
scheduled for Friday, Duane Williams, deputy clerk for Franklin
County Common Pleas Court, said Wednesday.

Clarett 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, police said. No one was injured.

Clarett, who led Ohio State to the 2002 national championship,
was sought by police for almost two days before he surrendered
about the time the Buckeyes were completing a victory over Notre
Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.

The 22-year-old player was ordered to stay away from the two
people he allegedly confronted outside the bar when entered the
plea, Williams said. The order is a routine requirement in robbery
cases.

He also had to surrender his passport and was released on his
own recognizance. He previously had been freed on a $50,000 bond,
which had expired.

Last month, Clarett was indicted on two counts of aggravated
robbery, four lesser robbery charges and a charge of carrying a
concealed weapon.

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as an
Ohio State freshman in 2002.

Clarett has had previous legal problems. He pleaded guilty to a
misdemeanor after admitting he lied when he said $10,000 in
clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment were stolen from his car
in the summer of 2003.

Ohio State suspended 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.

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.