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Gun, drugs found at site of coach's arrest

Burglary investigation involving UCLA's Eric Scott has expanded, authorities say. Attorney says Scott knew nothing of anything `untoward.'

July 27, 2007|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The investigation into alleged crimes by UCLA football assistant Eric Scott and two others has been expanded because a discarded gun was found at the home and "a large quantity of narcotics" was discovered in the area, said Sgt. Leonard Rivas of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Scott, 32, a first-year receivers coach, has been put on paid administrative leave by UCLA. He was arrested Tuesday in Norwalk on suspicion of felony residential burglary after police received a 911 call reporting that three men were forcing their way into a home.

Scott was taken into custody along with his cousin, Timothy Williams, 23, and Jesus DeAlba, 23, a former West Los Angeles College and New Mexico Highlands offensive lineman. All three later posted bail and were released.

The burglary, gun and narcotics investigations are being handled by two detective teams inside the Norwalk station, a sheriff's official said Thursday.

Meanwhile, attorney Milton Grimes was describing Scott's arrest as "an injustice" and saying there was not "sufficient evidence" that his client did anything more than wait in his car.

"Scott never went into that house; he did not know of anything untoward," Grimes said in an interview in his office, less than a mile from where Scott once starred and coached at Crenshaw High.

Grimes described Scott, who played football for UCLA from 1995 to '97, as "depressed and anxious."

"It'd be a shame if he loses his job at UCLA over some doo-doo like this," Grimes said.

Detailing Scott's recap of the minutes before the arrests, Grimes said the three men drove to the home of DeAlba's cousin, and a male came out of the house and briefly talked to DeAlba before going back inside.

Later, DeAlba also entered the house, looking for his cousin.

"[DeAlba] walks back outside, yelling for his cousin, police pull up, and they get Eric out of the car," Grimes said. "DeAlba admitted he took something from the house. I'm not sure what the items were."

Grimes said deputies never found a "complaining occupant," which was confirmed by authorities. Rivas said the burglary investigation has been complicated because "we're having a problem trying to find who lives in the house."

"We went by there and there's no occupant," Rivas added. "It would help a lot if we [had a victim]. We don't know what's missing from the residence."

A sheriff's official said Scott's Mercedes was "parked up the street" from the home that was allegedly burglarized. But even if Grimes' account becomes established, a legal source warned the coach remains subject to an accessory charge.

Scott has a criminal record. He has admitted guilt to separate misdemeanor concealed weapons charges in 1996 and 2005, and a misdemeanor disturbing-the-peace charge in 2002.

UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell has acknowledged that he hired Scott knowing some of his past.

"I believe in second chances," Dorrell said. But when asked whether the university encountered any red flags during the hiring process, he added, "I can't speculate on that."

A university source Thursday acknowledged "because Eric Scott had played at UCLA, there was some loyalty."

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said, "You make judgment calls on everyone you hire. This was a person who had already spent a year in the program as an intern, so you go back and look at a number of factors there.

"Clearly, we knew where he was coming from as a person. Karl felt that he was a person who would help our program. In any program, you're going to have transgressions."

Dorrell said he is prepared to step in as the team's receivers coach until Scott's legal situation is resolved. UCLA begins practice Aug. 6.

Crenshaw High football Coach Robert Garrett, who said he has known Scott from his 12-year-old ball-boy days through Scott's time as offensive coordinator for the school's 2005 City Section championship team, called the arrest "shocking."

"Eric has been a special person to this program," Garrett said. "This is not the person I know. This is crazy to me.

"Eric is an excellent coach; he's superior at working with kids. He could've gone anywhere after UCLA, but he wanted to help the kids here. The kids know that, and it means a lot to them."

Times staff writers Chris Foster, David Wharton and Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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