D.A. says Bills' Lynch to plead guilty to unspecified charge
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to plead guilty next week to an unspecified charge stemming from a hit-and-run accident involving his SUV, Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark said Friday.
Clark declined to detail the charge but said a tentative plea agreement assumes Lynch was driving his 2008 Porsche Cayenne when it hit a woman crossing a Buffalo intersection early May 31, leaving the victim with a bruised hip and in need of stitches.
There was one other person in the SUV at the time, Clark said. He would not say who it was.
The announcement of an "agreement in principle" between lawyers came as a grand jury was scheduled to begin hearing testimony in the case. Several Bills players and front-office employees were subpoenaed by investigators frustrated by Lynch's refusal to speak with them.
The prosecutor said he does not fault Lynch for exercising his right to stay silent, but acknowledged that his office and the Buffalo police could have used the nearly three weeks spent on the headline-grabbing Lynch case on more serious crimes.
"This, at its worst, is a vehicle and traffic misdemeanor. In the hierarchy of criminal conduct, this is certainly in the bottom third," he said.
Lynch, 22, was the Bills' first-round draft pick in 2007. His lawyer, Michael Caffery, did not immediately respond to Clark's announcement Friday. Earlier in the day he said by phone he was working toward a resolution. A message left with the player's agent was not immediately returned.
Clark said Lynch, who left town after a Bills minicamp last week, is expected to appear in a Buffalo courtroom in the middle of next week.
"He is going to be back here. He is going to be in Buffalo. He is going to confront the matter directly. He's going to do whatever he has to do to resolve it and then he's going to make a statement," he said.
Although the accident has been under investigation since the end of May, plea negotiations began moving quickly forward late last week after Buffalo Bills team lawyers got involved, according to Clark. Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon was among those served with a subpoena.
Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said the organization was aware of Clark's comments, "but will maintain our position that we will not comment until the process has been fully completed."
Clark said there was no reason to believe the delay in resolving the case affected the outcome.
"I think that the way this will be resolved will be in line with the way most of these cases are resolved and probably very much in line with the way it might have been resolved had all of this come together sooner," he said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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