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USC FYI

Wright enters plea in felony case

September 18, 2008|From Times staff reports

USC Coach Pete Carroll reiterated Wednesday he would take a wait-and-see approach regarding Shareece Wright's status in wake of the starting cornerback's legal problems.

Wright entered a not-guilty plea through his attorney Wednesday to one felony count of resisting a police officer during a party he attended in his hometown of Colton over Labor Day weekend.

Wright, 21, was released from custody without posting $15,000 in bail as was required from each of his three co-defendants, and San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge John N. Martin scheduled the four men to return for a settlement conference Oct. 29.

Martin, noting two-year-old court records showing Wright had a failure to appear on his record for a traffic violation, told Wright he would "slap you in jail so fast it'll make your head spin" if he failed to appear for the next hearing.

Wright's attorney, Carlos L. Juarez, said he would work to gather witness statements that he hoped would convince the San Bernardino County district attorney to drop the count that exposes Wright to a maximum three-year prison sentence if he were to be convicted.

"He's real concerned and worried it'll disrupt what he's doing, but I've assured him everything will be OK," Juarez said of Wright.

Wright attended practice but did not work out for the second consecutive day because of a pinched nerve. He declined to speak with reporters about his situation. USC has an open date this week and plays at Oregon State on Thursday.

Asked if he would make a determination about Wright's status this week, Carroll said, "I'm not worried about the time frames here. I just need really good information and we'll see what it all means."

Juarez said Wright had returned to Colton for a goodbye party for his friend Luis Alvarado, who, according to a mutual friend, was deployed by the Marines to Iraq on Wednesday. Neighbors had complained to Colton police about the party being loud, Juarez said, and officers arrived with a police dog, ultimately using a Taser on at least one of the partygoers.

Although three individuals were arrested at the scene for resisting a police officer, Wright wasn't, but he was ultimately briefly detained by Colton police last week and was charged by the district attorney.

Wright's attorney said the player was charged for not leaving his friend's home. The player told police he had a suspended driver's license -- which was confirmed at Wednesday's hearing -- and had been drinking. Ruben Morales, a friend of Wright, said Alvarado's mother told police she wanted Wright to spend the night at the party home, informing the officer, "He stays here."

Fake tickets

A combination of eager fans and opportunistic scalpers at the USC-Ohio State game Saturday led to officials confiscating about 150 counterfeit tickets at the stadium.

The number of phony tickets "was higher than normal," said Steve Lopes, a USC senior associate athletic director. "People think they can find a way to beat the system."

The game between teams then both ranked in the national top five generated unusual demand, with online resellers charging average prices of nearly $400.

Christopher Martinez said he and his brother paid a scalper $950 for four seats but were turned away at the gate when their tickets did not register on the scanner.

"They had the hologram and bar code and everything," said Martinez, 42, of Pasadena. "Then we bumped into some friends and the same thing happened to them."

Quick kicks

Tailback Joe McKnight, who said he suffered a migraine during the Trojans' victory over Ohio State, returned to practice, but was held out of contact drills. "When I got up this morning, I was feeling good, I wasn't dizzy at all," McKnight said. . . . Running back Curtis McNeal, a 5-foot-8 freshman, took multiple repetitions during his second workout and will imitate 5-7 Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers next week when the Trojans prepare for the Beavers, Carroll said.

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Times staff writers Lance Pugmire, Gary Klein and David Wharton contributed to this report.

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