Pacman Jones pays $20,000 gambling debt to casino

Updated: May 24, 2008, 8:25 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas district attorney says Pacman Jones' $20,000 gambling debt to a casino has been paid off, allowing the DA to recall a request for an arrest warrant for the suspended NFL player.

Jones found a way to pay off his debts within 24 hours of a criminal complaint being filed, and the bad check case is now closed, Clark County DA David Roger said Friday.

Court documents filed Friday showed the DA was seeking a felony arrest warrant for the 24-year-old Jones unless he made good on three casino markers worth $20,000 he received last Sept. 3 at Caesars Palace.

In Nevada, unpaid casino markers, or loans to gamblers, are treated as bad checks and are turned over to the district attorney for prosecution.

Jones paid a total of $21,675, including $1,675 for DA's office processing fees and penalties.

Bernie Zadrowski, chief of the DA's bad check unit, said another $3,000 penalty cited in court documents would have been added if a felony theft warrant had been issued. No such warrant was issued.

Rogers' request for the warrant -- which included a criminal complaint charging Jones with fraud and theft -- alleged Jones wrote two bad checks for $5,000 and one for $10,000, last Sept. 3 at Caesars Palace.

[+] EnlargePacman Jones
AP Photo/John RussellPacman Jones (at a 2006 Titans preseason game) faced a felony arrest warrant if he didn't pay his huge casino debt. He's now off the legal hook for his gambling ways.

"It's unfortunate that a non-story became public," Jones' lawyer, Manny Arora, said after the money was paid.

The case was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

Arora acknowledged Jones owed the money cited in the complaint to Caesars Palace, but said he had been quietly trying to arrange payment.

He accused Roger of filing the criminal complaint against Jones after a similar case involving retired NBA star Charles Barkley won widespread notoriety earlier in the week. Roger denied Arora's claim.

"In Mr. Jones' case, we were working with him since February to obtain restitution," Roger said. "We determined he was not acting in good faith, and we filed a criminal complaint."

Roger threatened to file criminal charges against Barkley before he settled his debt by paying $400,000 to reimburse the Wynn Las Vegas resort for four casino markers he received in October, Zadrowski said. Barkley also paid $40,000 in fees.

Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Caesars Palace owner Harrah's Entertainment Inc., declined comment on Jones' case, which the casino had asked the DA's office to open on Feb. 12.

Jones' Labor Day 2007 visit to Caesars came while he was facing felony coercion charges for his role in a strip club triple shooting that left a man paralyzed in Las Vegas in February 2007. He pleaded no contest in district court on Dec. 6 to a gross misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from the incident. His sentencing has been put off until he testifies in the shooting case.

Arora told ESPN's Ed Werder that the NFL office has been made aware of the facts in the dispute and does not believe the episode should impede their efforts to convince NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to let Jones take part in the Dallas Cowboys' offseason training program, or reinstate him for the 2008 season.

"We've informed the league and it is my sincere hope that it has no impact on the reinstatement process,'' Arora told Werder.

The NFL has no policy against players gambling in casinos, as long as they do not wager on NFL games. However, the league is scrutinizing the actions of Jones, who was indefinitely suspended last season by Goodell. Jones recently was traded from the Tennessee Titans to the Cowboys.

Of the situation, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "We are aware of it, and we are looking into it."

Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said the club had no comment.

Arora said Jones has not been paid since his suspension in March 2007 and has been "moving assets around" to pay bills. The suspension came after the star cornerback's sixth arrest since he was drafted by the Titans in the first round in 2005.

Jones had been scheduled for a base salary of $1.74 million in 2008 and had been under contract through 2009 before his suspension.

"Even though Mr. Jones is a witness for the state, he is not above the law," district attorney Roger said Thursday, according to the Sun. "He will be treated like any other person who violates Nevada's bad check laws."

But Arora called the gambling debt "a nonissue."

"We've been in constant communication with the district attorney's office about giving us some time to pay back the debt," Arora told Werder. "The only delay was we tried to liquidate assets on behalf of Adam to raise the money since he wasn't receiving a salary and it took longer than expected."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN reporter Ed Werder was used in this report.

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