Clarett arrested with 4 guns in SUV

Published 9:02 pm Thursday, August 10, 2006

It’s becoming a familiar sight: Maurice Clarett, looking haggard and humbled, shuffling into an Ohio courtroom.

While the scene is the same, the charges against the fallen former Ohio State star running back are growing ever more serious.

Clarett is scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday to face arraignment on a felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon — an accusation that only begins to describe the latest chapter in his bizarre saga.

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It began when police noticed a sport utility vehicle driving erratically in the early morning hours Wednesday. A highway chase ensued, then ended when police spiked Clarett’s tires, sending his vehicle limping into a restaurant parking lot.

Officers said they could not easily subdue him because the bulletproof vest he was wearing thwarted their stun guns. It took several police using pepper spray to get the 6-foot, 245-pounder into handcuffs.

He continued to struggle even as he was taken away, kicking at the doors of the transport vehicle.

Officers discovered an arsenal in Clarett’s vehicle that included three semiautomatic handguns and an AK-47-type assault rifle in the front seat — all loaded.

But Clarett’s latest run-in with the law took perhaps its most troubling turn hours later, when prosecutors asked a judge to keep him in jail and revoke his bond on an earlier robbery charge.

Their reasons: The fact he was carting all those guns around — and only a few blocks from the home of a woman who was set to testify against him next week in an alleged robbery, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.

“We don’t have any idea why he had them or what, if anything, he was going to do with them,” Sgt. Michael Woods said. “But if you’ve got four guns in your car, you’re up to no good.”

The judge raised the bond to $1.1 million. But Clarett’s attorney, Nick Mango, said it was unlikely Clarett could post it, meaning he would stay in jail for the duration of his trial, which starts Monday.

Earlier this year, he was charged with robbery and carrying a concealed weapon after authorities say he was identified as the person who flashed a gun and robbed two people of a cell phone behind a Columbus lounge early on New Year’s morning.

Mango, whom Clarett had not hired to represent him in the new criminal case, said he is concerned about Clarett’s mental health. “He’s been under a lot of pressure because of this case,” he said, referring to the robbery charge.

Clarett was being held in a cell by himself at the Franklin County jail, common practice with high-profile inmates, a sheriff’s deputy said.

He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a felony, and given a traffic citation. Police said more charges are possible, and federal agents said they are eyeing whether Clarett violated federal gun laws that prohibit having a firearm while under indictment.

As a freshman, Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship. It was the last game he played for the Buckeyes. He was suspended for the 2003 season after being charged with falsely reporting to police that items were stolen out of a borrowed car. After dropping out of school, he challenged the NFL’s draft eligibility rule in 2004 but lost.