Clarett#039;s attorney seeks reduced charge

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 10, 2004

COLUMBUS - A lawyer for suspended Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett said he would be willing to resolve his client's misdemeanor case if Clarett could avoid having a criminal record.

''I think there's a willingness to resolve it, to bring it to an end so he can get it behind him,'' lawyer Percy Squire said Saturday night.

Clarett is accused of filing a campus police report that exaggerated the value of items stolen from a dealership car he borrowed in April. He has pleaded innocent to the falsification charge, which carries a penalty ranging from probation to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

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Squire said he plans to resume settlement discussions Monday with the city's lead prosecutor, Stephen McIntosh, but wouldn't say whether a specific offer has been made by either side.

''This process is one that is really controlled by the prosecutor,'' Squire said. ''There are certainly terms that we would recommend in the best interest of Mr. Clarett. The city has got to be willing to offer something that is palatable. But there is no definitive agreement at this point.''

McIntosh told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer for a story Saturday that Squire's ''willingness to resolve the case'' has led to several discussions in recent weeks.

''We are, I believe, close to working something out,'' McIntosh said.

Squire told The Plain Dealer that Clarett would be willing to enter a guilty plea to a reduced charge such as a minor misdemeanor, which does not appear on a criminal record, requires no jail time and has a maximum penalty of $100.

A message seeking comment for McIntosh was left at his office Saturday night.

Franklin County Municipal Judge Mark Froehlich has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to decide whether statements Clarett made to NCAA investigators should be admissible as evidence in the case.

Clarett was suspended for accepting improper benefits from a family friend and for lying about it to investigators. In a separate case, Clarett is suing the NFL for early entry into the draft.