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McNown Finally Admits Wrongdoing

UCLA: Former quarterback, two others plead no contest in handicapped-parking scandal.

October 01, 1999|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cade McNown, who for months had denied wrongdoing in the UCLA handicapped-parking scam and said he resented being grouped with those who had broken the law, on Thursday accepted the same penalties as 15 other current and former Bruins.

The quarterback's no-contest plea in Los Angeles Municipal Court was entered the same day as those of senior defensive back Eric Whitfield and former fullback Craig Walendy. All agreed to $1,485 fines, 200 hours of community service and two years' probation for illegally possessing placards.

McNown, now a rookie with the Chicago Bears, did not attend the proceedings but issued a statement from the Bears' headquarters in Lake Forest, Ill.

"During off-season workouts at UCLA, I applied for a handicapped parking sticker," it said. "Although I was injured, the process by which I acquired the permit was wrong, and for that I am sorry. I had trouble getting around, but applying for the sticker minimized the needs of permanently disabled persons. I deeply regret the incident occurred, and hope people don't judge me on this particular mistake."

McNown declined further comment, citing the advice of his lawyers.

Thursday's action brings to 16 the number of convictions in the high-profile misdemeanor case, all resulting in the same penalties. Nine players, Whitfield among them, are still on the team and were suspended for the first two games as part of the university's discipline.

"It was already behind me, from Day 1," Whitfield said. "My focus this week has been on the [Arizona State] Sun Devils and that's it. Their running game and their passing game."

Three others were scheduled for arraignment Thursday--former Bruin stars Larry Atkins, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Skip Hicks--but their cases were continued until Oct. 20.

Investigators for the UCLA Police Department found that McNown and Whitfield had applications for temporary permits that were signed by a doctor, unlike 17 others who were accused of using false signatures. But the doctor whose name was submitted by McNown and Whitfield said she had not signed forms for either and that she did not have records of them as patients.

McNown's attorney, Ron Safer, said his client never parked in a handicapped spot.

Meanwhile, Marvin Demoff, the lawyer for Atkins, said the former star safety would probably take the same plea agreement. Howard Silber, who represents Hicks and Ayanbadejo, said they had not decided whether to contest the charges.

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