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UCLA assistant arrested on suspicion of burglary

Receivers coach Eric Scott had been sentenced for three other crimes before being hired.

July 26, 2007|Lance Pugmire and Chris Foster | Times Staff Writers

Eric Scott, the UCLA football assistant arrested on suspicion of felony residential burglary, had been sentenced for three other crimes before being hired in March to coach Bruins receivers.

UCLA put Scott, 32, on paid administrative leave Wednesday, one day after his arrest. Coach Karl Dorrell also acknowledged in a statement that the school knew about the former Crenshaw High player and coach's criminal background when it hired him.

Scott's record includes two incidents of illegally carrying a concealed weapon and one case of disturbing the peace, dating to 1996.

"I knew he had some rough spots growing up, coming from his inner-city neighborhood. He lost three brothers to violence, so yes, I knew he had some issues in his background," Dorrell said.

"Some other information has surfaced during this investigation that I was not aware of. Eric was placed on probation and fulfilled his obligations for those issues."

Dorrell said UCLA would continue to monitor information gathered in the case and would "make a determination on Eric's status at the appropriate time."

Scott, who played receiver for UCLA from 1995 to 1997, could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Milton Grimes, released a statement that read, "From my preliminary investigation, it appears that a mistake was made by the Los Angeles Sheriff Deputies that should be cleared up within a few days. There is no evidence that any crime was committed by Eric Scott or anyone with him."

Scott joined the UCLA football staff as an intern in 2006 after serving as offensive coordinator for Crenshaw's 2005 City Section championship team. He was promoted by UCLA to receivers coach this spring.

Authorities said Scott was arrested with Jesus DeAlba, 23, and Timothy Williams, 23, Tuesday afternoon after deputies received a 911 call about a possible burglary in the 11600 block of Pioneer Blvd. in Norwalk, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. Sgt. Craig Harmon said.

"A neighbor saw the three suspects on the porch of a single-family home, then saw them force their way in," Harmon said. "When deputies arrived, the three were seen walking from the location, and were found with property from the house they admitted to taking."

Each posted a bond of $5,000 and was released Tuesday night. An arraignment date at Los Angeles County Superior Court in Norwalk has yet to be set, Harmon said.

Scott's previous arrests resulted in misdemeanor sentences, and his former attorney said that was key in UCLA's ability to hire him.

"He had said something to me about that as long as he didn't have a felony ... he could coach there," said George Hernandez, an attorney who represented Scott after a Dec. 29, 2004, arrest for carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle.

DeAlba is a 6-foot-2, 290-pound former offensive lineman who played at West Los Angeles College and last season at New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, N.M. DeAlba was expelled from the New Mexico school for breaking into and burglarizing campus dorm rooms, according to a school spokesman.

"He's really a nice guy to talk to ... but he obviously has some problems," Highlands sports information director Gavino Archuleta said, adding that school officials suspected that DeAlba also was involved in a break-in at the football team's fieldhouse.

Whether Williams has a tie-in to athletics is not known.

Scott is credited by some Bruins watchers for picking up inner-city recruiting efforts from Eric Bieniemy, the UCLA running backs coach who left Westwood to take a post with the Minnesota Vikings in January 2006.

His efforts locally are evident in the nearly two dozen high school seniors who have committed to the Bruins for 2008 -- including players from Crenshaw, Dorsey, Compton Dominguez, Venice and Culver City.

"Eric is the kind of young man, given his background, that knows his purpose in life is to help kids," Dorrell said in his statement. "He has helped so many kids over the last seven years graduate at Crenshaw and go on to college."

Scott attended Northwestern as a freshman before transferring to UCLA in 1994.

His late-2004 concealed-weapon arrest triggered a four-count felony complaint by the Los Angeles County District Attorney in 2005 that charged Scott with carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm after a prior conviction on the same charge.

Court records show Scott was stopped by police while carrying a Ruger handgun with a 9-mm magazine clip and five rounds of ammunition. After his attorney challenged the police search, Scott pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of carrying the concealed weapon in the car and was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and probation that lasted until this year, a law enforcement source said.

"He never brandished or pointed that gun," Hernandez said. "He lives by Crenshaw High School. As a coach, you have to go to different homes at night. He told me his brother was shot and killed."

Culver City Police arrested Scott in February 2002 and he was charged with misdemeanor unlawful obstruction of a police officer. When a judge amended the charge to misdemeanor disturbing the peace, Scott pleaded no contest and was sentenced to one year of probation.

\o7Times staff writers Mike Hiserman and Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.\f7

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

chris.foster@latimes.com

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