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Ex-Heisman Winner Rodgers Convicted in Weapon Incident

January 29, 1987|Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers was convicted Wednesday of assault with a deadly weapon and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.

Rodgers, of San Diego, was sent to county jail by San Diego Superior Court Judge Jack Levitt, who set sentencing for Feb. 25. Deputy District Attorney Stephen Anear said Rodgers could receive a maximum sentence of four years and eight months in state prison.

The jury, which deliberated one day, found Rodgers innocent of a charge of exhibiting a firearm in a threatening manner.

Rodgers acted as his own attorney in the case over an allegation that he pointed a gun at a cable-television technician who had gone to his home in October, 1985, to disconnect his service for nonpayment.

He was sentenced to five days in jail for contempt of court for comments he made during his final argument to the jury. He ignored Levitt's instruction to refrain from mentioning a pardon that Rodgers claimed he received on a 1971 grand larceny conviction.

Rodgers was convicted of a gas station robbery while he was a student at the University of Nebraska. Rodgers won college football's highest honor in 1972 and later played for the Chargers.

Rodgers was fined $500 on a second contempt charge after Levitt suspended a second five-day jail term and placed him on probation.

Levitt said Rodgers displayed "a very flippant, contemptuous attitude" in court.

Before being sentenced on the contempt charges, Rodgers told Levitt: "I do apologize to the court. I was in a situation where I didn't really know what to do."

Rodgers had dismissed several attorneys appointed to represent him.

Attorney Michael Berg had been appointed by the court to act as an adviser to Rodgers, but Rodgers acted as his own attorney most of the time.

"It was tough," Berg said after the verdict. "He wasn't prepared. He wasn't capable of representing himself as his own attorney."

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