Clarett held on $5 million bond, to re-appear Friday

Updated: August 13, 2006, 8:51 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett reacted with quiet disbelief when he learned he'd likely spend the weekend in jail. The former Ohio State star running back may have an even harder time accepting what lies ahead.

A Call for Help?
Maurice Clarett

On possibly his last night as a free man, Maurice Clarett was calling on the telephone. I hadn't seen him or heard from him in a year, not since the Denver Broncos kicked him to the curb, but I was on his list Tuesday night.

I looked at the clock when he called, and it was just past 11 p.m. ET. He told me he was driving somewhere, and along the way his cell phone cut in and out. He wasn't loud or belligerent. Instead he seemed melancholy and possibly drunk. ...

To read more on Clarett's late-night phone call to ESPN The Magazine's Tom Friend, click here.

Gene Wojchiechowski:
Holmes doesn't know this Clarett

Santonio Holmes and Maurice Clarett entered Ohio State together. But while Holmes is a Pittsburgh Steeler, an unfamiliar Clarett is in jail, writes's Gene Wojchiechowski. To read more, click here.

ESPN Radio weighs in
Dan Patrick, ESPN The Magazine's Tom Friend and Mel Kiper discussed what is going on with Maurice Clarett on Thursday.

To listen to their take on the ESPN Radio Daily, click here.

Wearing the same type of tan, jail-issue jumpsuit he'd sported here once before, the former Ohio State star running back closed his eyes and softly shook his head Thursday when the judge announced his bond on a gun charge: $5 million.

His attorney, Nick Mango, said his client would not likely be able to post it, keeping Clarett in jail at least until the start of his robbery trial Monday. Clarett has been ordered to appear in court Friday afternoon in the robbery case.

Following his bizarre and violent encounter with police early Wednesday, prosecutors had asked a judge to hold Clarett on at least $1 million bond.

"We feel he's a threat to the community," assistant prosecutor Chris Brown said.

Clarett stood against a wall next to his lawyer during Thursday's arraignment, didn't say anything and wasn't addressed by the judge.

Mango would not speculate on why four loaded guns -- including an assault rifle -- were in the SUV Clarett was driving early Wednesday.

"We're very confident that there was no intent to harm anyone," Mango said.

Prosecutors initially asked the judge to hold Clarett without bond, in part because he had been driving just a few blocks from the home of a woman scheduled to testify against him in his robbery trial. In that case, witnesses said Clarett flashed a gun and robbed them of a cell phone behind a Columbus nightclub earlier this year.

Franklin County Municipal Judge Andrea Peeples said she set the bond so high because the 22-year-old Clarett attempted to flee police. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 18.

In the robbery case, Common Pleas Judge David Fais ordered Clarett to appear in court Friday, but did not tell his attorneys what issue would be addressed.

"My sense is that the judge was going to inquire as to whether the defense intended to file a request for a psychological evaluation of our client, Mr. Clarett, which we do not intend to do," attorney Michael Hoague said.

After Clarett's arrest on Wednesday, his lawyers expressed concern about his mental health, but Hoague said he and Mango are confident Clarett understands what is going on and will be able to assist in his defense. The attorneys don't plan to make any requests that would delay the start of the trial Monday, Hoague said.

Clarett's latest run-in with the law began when police noticed a vehicle driving erratically, beginning a highway chase that ended with police spiking the SUV's tires. Officers said they could not easily subdue Clarett because he was wearing a bulletproof vest that thwarted their stun guns.

After several police using pepper spray finally got him into handcuffs, the 6-foot, 245-pounder continued to struggle, kicking at the doors of the transport vehicle. Officers also secured a cloth mask over Clarett's mouth after they say he spat at them.

Police said more charges are possible, and federal agents said they are eyeing whether Clarett violated federal gun laws that prohibit having a firearm while under indictment.

"I feel bad for him. I think a lot of people do," said rookie linebacker A.J. Hawk of the Green Bay Packers, who arrived at Ohio State as a freshman with Clarett. "You've got to surround yourself with decent people, and I think in his case maybe he didn't do that, or took some bad advice or whatever. I don't know. Things aren't going right. Maybe this will be a wake-up call."

Clarett was in a positive mood when he spent Tuesday night in suburban Columbus with his attorneys, preparing for next week's trial, said Jon Saia, a senior partner with the law firm representing Clarett.

He made a series of cell phone calls into the night and early Wednesday morning, including one to Jim Terry, coach of Mahoning Valley Hitmen of the Eastern Indoor Football League where Clarett has plans to play in January.

Terry said Clarett, whose girlfriend recently gave birth to his premature daughter, sounded depressed on the phone, but that wasn't unusual.

"Maurice mumbles, so he sounds depressed all the time," Terry said. "We just talked about the baby, we talked about the trial and then the phone cut out."

Clarett did not call back, Terry said. Police said they attempted to stop Clarett a short time later.

As a freshman, Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship. It was the last game he played for the Buckeyes.

He was suspended for the following season after being charged with falsely reporting a theft to police. After dropping out of school, he challenged the NFL's draft eligibility rule in 2004 but lost.

The Broncos made him a surprise third-round pick the following year, but he was cut during the preseason.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press