With plea deal accepted, prosecutor hopes 'Pacman' can identify gunman
LAS VEGAS -- A judge accepted a plea deal Thursday reducing felony charges against suspended NFL player Adam "Pacman" Jones to a gross misdemeanor that will get him probation in return for his testimony about a strip club triple shooting.
The 24-year-old Tennessee Titans cornerback did not appear before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Tony Abbatangelo, who accepted the written agreement and waived Jones' preliminary hearing on two felony coercion charges.
Abbatangelo scheduled Jones to plead no contest Dec. 5 in state court to one charge of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct.
Jones will be sentenced later to one year of probation, Clark County prosecutor Victoria Villegas said after a brief hearing. Two charges of coercion, a felony carrying a possible sentence of one to six years in prison, will be dropped.
"The goal is to find the shooter," Villegas said.
Las Vegas police have not linked Jones to the Feb. 19 gunfire that left three people wounded outside the Minxx Gentlemen's Club at the end of NBA All-Star weekend in Las Vegas. No one has been charged in that case.
But police called Jones "an inciter" of a melee that broke out after he showered dancers inside the strip club with dollar bills pulled from a black plastic trash bag -- a stunt known as "making it rain."
Witnesses told police that Jones and members of his entourage threatened people while they were being ejected, and that Jones spoke outside the club with a man who was suspected of opening fire minutes later.
Defense attorney Robert Langford declined to say if Jones knew the identity of the gunman. He cited the ongoing police investigation.
Las Vegas police Lt. George Castro declined to say what information police believe Jones can provide.
Two co-defendants in the case also are taking plea deals, said Langford, who represents all three.
Jones' bodyguard, Robert "Big Rob" Reid, 37, of Carson, Calif., is scheduled to plead no contest Dec. 5 to conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct and receive one year probation. Reid faced one felony coercion charge.
Sadia Morrison, 25, of New York, will plead no contest to a felony battery charge in return for dropping other felony charges. Morrison faced five charges, including coercion, felony assault with a deadly weapon and battery. She is expected to receive up to three years' probation, and her conviction would be reduced to a gross misdemeanor if she stays out of trouble, Langford said.
Jones' Atlanta-based attorney, Manny Arora, has said he believed Jones could beat the coercion charge, but a trial might hurt Jones' chances for reinstatement to the NFL. Arora did not immediately respond Thursday to messages seeking comment.
Jones has been arrested six times since the Titans drafted him in April 2005 from West Virginia, and has other criminal cases pending. A felony count of obstruction in Georgia from a February 2006 arrest has been postponed, and August 2006 public intoxication and disorderly charges in Tennessee were delayed pending the outcome of the Las Vegas case.
Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Jones for the 2007 season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The Titans have declined comment and said Jones' future will be addressed when he's reinstated.
The NFL Players Association is asking Goodell to reconsider Jones' suspension.
Under the Las Vegas plea deal, Jones received a suspended one-year jail sentence. He also must attend an anger management program, complete 200 hours of community service within a year and submit to random drug testing.
Langford said the probation and community service requirements might be fulfilled near Jones' home in Tennessee. Jones already is subject to the NFL's drug testing program.
The three people who were wounded -- club employee Tommy Urbanski, co-worker and bouncer Aaron Cudworth and club patron Natalie Jones -- have each have filed civil lawsuits seeking damages from Jones.
The lawsuit by Urbanski, who was paralyzed from the waist down, also seeks damages from the NFL, the Titans and the owners of Harlem Knights, a Houston strip club that hosted events at the Minxx club.
Urbanski's wife, Kathy, expressed anger this week about Jones' plea deal and said she wants the shooter identified and charged. She declined comment Thursday.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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NFL'S ZERO TOLERANCE
Roger Goodell is cracking down on the player misconduct that's plagued his term as NFL commissioner, suspending Tennessee's Adam "Pacman" Jones (right) for the 2007 season and Cincinnati's Chris Henry and Tank Johnson (left) for eight games. Henry and Johnson have since been reinstated after serving their penalties.
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