Two former Florida State players charged in theft


Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE - A.J. Nicholson and another former Florida State football player are charged with breaking into the apartment of Seminoles running back Lorenzo Booker and stealing about $1,700 in electronic equipment, Tallahassee police said Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Nicholson, a linebacker drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in April, was being sought in Ohio, said police spokesman John T. Newland. Fred Rouse, 20, a wide receiver who was kicked off the team in January after his freshman season, was arrested Saturday in his hometown of Tallahassee.
The apartment Booker shares with three roommates was broken into while they were out of town May 20-21, Newland said.
Both suspects are charged with burglary and grand theft, both felonies. Nicholson also is charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, for damage to the apartment. Rouse also faces an unrelated felony charge of illegal possession of a prescription drug.
Nicholson, who has a history of off-field problems, was taken by the Bengals in the fifth round of the NFL Draft and recently participated in the team's voluntary workouts.
"It is our policy that it is not appropriate for us to comment on a player's legal situation until or unless it is resolved in the courts," Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said.
Nicholson's agent did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Rouse, who was released under a $6,000 bond, did not have a Tallahassee telephone listing. Leon County Jail records did not indicate that he had a lawyer.
Florida State suspended Nicholson for the Orange Bowl in January after he took a woman to the team's Miami hotel, a violation of team policy, and she accused him of sexual assault. Nicholson has not been charged in that case.
While at Florida State, Nicholson also was charged with drunken driving, pleaded no contest and received probation. In a separate case, he was Tasered by police after a bar dispute but a resisting arrest charge was dropped.
Rouse was one of the nation's most widely acclaimed prep stars when he signed with Florida State last year. Coach Bobby Bowden dismissed him nearly three weeks after the Orange Bowl for what he called "conduct detrimental to the welfare of the football team."
Police solved the break-in by tracing a receiver's glove found under a television set to Rouse, who was questioned and then confessed, Newland said. He said Rouse implicated Nicholson, a former roommate of Booker's, as the instigator.
"When A.J. broke into the rear window he cut his finger," Newland said.
Nicholson is the second Bengals player arrested in the last five months. Receiver Chris Henry, a rookie last season, is awaiting an August trial on a gun charge in Orlando.
  • SPORTS FIRM INVESTIGATION: The FBI has opened an investigation into a fledgling San Diego sports marketing firm that tried to recruit Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, the attorney for the football star's family told The Associated Press Wednesday.
    Attorney David Cornwell of Atlanta said FBI agents interviewed him about "potential federal crimes" last week by phone. Cornwell said he intends to make Bush and his parents available to the FBI.
    "They've asked now to interview Reggie and his parents," Cornwell said. "I intend to cooperate, yes."
    April Langwell, an FBI spokeswoman in San Diego, said she could neither confirm nor deny any investigations.
    The NCAA and Pac-10 are investigating whether any rules were broken when Bush's family lived in a suburban San Diego home owned by Michael Michaels, a principal in New Era Sports & Entertainment, while Bush was still playing for Southern California last season. The NCAA prohibits student-athletes and their families from receiving extra benefits from agents or their representatives.
    Michaels and his partner, Lloyd Lake, a documented gang member serving time in prison, formed New Era late last year in the hopes of signing Bush to handle his marketing, and bring aboard a San Diego agent to handle contract negotiations. Their hopes were dashed when Bush signed with another agent and marketing representative.
    San Diego attorney Brian Watkins, who represents New Era, said in April he plans to sue Bush's parents for $3.2 million. Watkins said Bush's parents owed $54,000 in rent for the year they lived in Michaels' house.
    "We have been contacted by the FBI to discuss the conduct of the individuals represented by Watkins," Cornwell said.
    Reached by phone Wednesday, Watkins said he was unaware of the FBI investigation.
    Bush and his family so far have declined to be interviewed by NCAA and Pac-10 investigators. Cornwell said they were unwilling to provide information that could be used by Watkins, but indicated he was willing to cooperate.
    "The issue with the FBI is similar to the NCAA. I want to balance the cooperation with the FBI against my needs to protect my client's interest with regard to threatened litigation," Cornwell said.
    Bush was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, but the Houston Texans bypassed him and took North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams. Bush went to New Orleans with the second pick.
    Before the NFL draft in late April, the league alerted some teams about a potential attempted extortion of Bush's family.
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