Clarett indicted on robbery charges

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State star tailback Maurice
Clarett was indicted Friday on charges of robbery and carrying a
concealed weapon, the latest setback for the player who helped the
Buckeyes win the 2002 national championship.

Clarett is accused of flashing a gun and demanding property from
a man and a woman early Jan. 1. Police said he got into a sport
utility vehicle with two men after he was identified by the bar
owner, who happened to come out into the alley.

No one was injured, and only a cell phone was taken, police

Clarett was charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and
four lesser robbery counts, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien

Clarett denied the charges in a statement issued by his lawyer,
William Settina.

"Mr. Clarett intends to fight this indictment with the same
vigor and resolve he displayed in taking OSU to a national
championship," Settina said in the statement.

Clarett only would be sentenced on two robbery charges if
convicted, but O'Brien said the extra counts are "backup charges"
to give a jury options. Clarett would face up to 26 years in prison
if convicted on the two most serious armed robbery charges.

Settina criticized O'Brien for calling a news conference to
announce the indictment, saying it would make the selection of a
fair and impartial jury more difficult.

O'Brien said he held a news conference in anticipation of strong
media interest and to avoid spending a day returning individual

Clarett, 22, was sought by police for almost two days before he
turned himself in about the time the Buckeyes were completing a win
over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. He posted $50,000
bond and was released from jail.

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as an
Ohio State freshman in 2002.

His final touchdown, in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl,
gave the Buckeyes a 31-24 upset of top-ranked Miami for the
national title.

The prosecutor urged the two people who were reportedly with
Clarett in the SUV to come forward. Authorities are continuing to
search for them and have not identified them, O'Brien said. They
could face charges of being accomplices.

"Their silence in our view speaks complicity as opposed to lack
of knowledge that a robbery was going to occur," O'Brien said.

The indictment is the latest legal problem for Clarett.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after admitting that he lied
when he claimed $10,000 in clothing, audio CDs, cash and stereo equipment
were taken from his car in the summer of 2003.

Ohio State suspending Clarett for misleading investigators, and
for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a
family friend.

Clarett dropped out of Ohio State, then challenged the NFL's
requirement that players wait three years after high school before
turning pro. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court before Clarett

In an interview with ESPN The Magazine in 2004, Clarett said
coaches and boosters arranged for him to get passing grades, cars
and thousands of dollars while at Ohio State. The allegations
weren't verified, and Clarett never responded to NCAA requests to
be interviewed as part of its investigation into Ohio State's
athletic program.

After two years in limbo, he was taken in the third round by the
Denver Broncos in last year's draft. He was cut in August.