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Gaming Guru

Jeff German

Gambling debts chase suspended NFL player

23 May 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The district attorney's office is seeking a felony arrest warrant for suspended NFL player Adam "Pacman" Jones for failing to repay $20,000 in gambling debts to Caesars Palace.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Bernie Zadrowski, who runs the bad check unit, forwarded the request, along with a two-count criminal complaint charging Jones with fraud and theft, to Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure on Thursday.

In the warrant request, Zadrowski alleged that Jones has not paid back three markers, two for $5,000 each and one for $10,000, that Caesars Palace gave Jones on Sept. 3.

Bonaventure had not signed the warrant as of late Thursday.

For Jones, who was suspended by the NFL for the 2007 season for violating the league's personal conduct policy, the criminal theft case is the latest in a string of brushes with the law. He has been arrested six times since he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2005.

Jones, 24, who is seeking reinstatement to the NFL amid his recent trade to the Dallas Cowboys, was a central figure in a triple shooting at the Minxx strip club in February 2007. He pleaded no contest in District Court on Dec. 6 to a gross misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from the shooting that left a bouncer paralyzed.

Jones agreed to cooperate with Las Vegas authorities in return for the dismissal of more serious felony charges that could have brought him a stiff prison term. As part of the deal, he also agreed to serve one year of probation, do 200 hours of community service and submit to random drug testing. His sentencing has been put off until he testifies.

Executives with gaming giant Harrah's Entertainment, which owns Caesars Palace, asked the bad check unit to pursue the criminal case against Jones on Feb. 12.

Harrah's spokesman Gary Thompson declined to comment Thursday.

The bad check unit generally gives someone accused of failing to pay a gambling debt 90 days to come up with the money before filing criminal charges. Unpaid casino markers are treated as bad checks in Nevada.

"Even though Mr. Jones is a witness for the state, he is not above the law," District Attorney David Roger said Thursday. "He will be treated like any other person who violates Nevada's bad check laws."

This is the second high-profile gambling debt to surface at the bad check unit in the past week. The unit moved to drop a criminal case against Charles Barkley on Wednesday after the former NBA star paid Wynn Las Vegas $400,000 in gambling markers.

Las Vegas attorney Robert Langford, who represents Jones, said he was "pretty damn surprised" to hear that the district attorney was moving forward with the criminal case.

"I thought we were working it out," Langford said. "He (Jones) hasn't been playing football, so he hasn't been able to pay it back."

The bad check unit, Langford said, has become a "personal collection agency" for the casinos over the years.

"When it comes to casino markers, $20,000 is next to nothing," he said. "I'm going to call the district attorney's office and get this straightened out. He's not a gambling addict. We're going to pay it back."

Roger, however, said it was premature to say whether his office would drop the criminal case if Jones repays Caesars Palace.

"We've given him a lot of latitude to make restitution, and he has failed to do so," Roger said. "And he has another case pending in the criminal justice system."