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Two UCLA Players Plead No Contest

September 14, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Two defendants in UCLA’s handicapped parking scandal pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge today, and another two were expected to do the same before the day ended.

Meanwhile, five former or current players including All-American quarterback Cade McNown, charged Monday and scheduled for arraignment today, were granted continuances until Sept. 30.

McNown’s attorney, Ronald Safer, refused to say how his client would plead, but said the Chicago Bears rookie was ``deeply troubled″ by the charge, and was legitimately entitled to the placard when he used it briefly nearly three years ago.

``You’ll have to come Sept. 30 to see how he pleads,″ Safer said outside Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Mark Reynosa and Duval Hicks, who played for the Bruins last year, entered contest pleas to the misdemeanor charge of illegally possessing a disabled parking placard before Municipal Judge Sam Ohta.

As was the case with nine other defendants who entered the same plea July 28, they were ordered to pay to pay $1,485 in fines and perform 200 hours of community service.

The athletes also must spend a day meeting with the disabled and their advocates.

Deputy city attorney Brian Williams said he expected James Ghezzi and Durell Price to enter similar pleas later in the day.

The case of Craig Walendy, another whose UCLA career finished last year, was continued until Sept. 30, but Williams said that was because his attorney was unavailable, and added he expected Walendy to also plead no contest.

The city attorney’s Office has brought charges against a total of 19 current or former Bruins alleged to be part of the disabled parking scam.

Ten, including Price and Ghezzi, are members of the current team and were suspended for the season’s first two games. Six will eturn Saturday night against Fresno State.

Charged Monday along with McNown, were running back Skip Hicks of the Washington Redskins, safety Larry Atkins of the Kansas City Chiefs, former linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, and defensive back Eric Whitfield, a member of the current team who served the two-game suspension.

All were said to have illegally obtained the handicapped parking placards in 1996 and 1997.

Safer said he didn’t believe there was any evidence McNown ever parked in a handicapped spot.

``He completed the application on Jan. 4, he was injured,″ Safer said. ``He received the placard sometime later. He does not recall using a handicapped spot.″

Asked if McNown used a doctor’s name on the form, Safer said, ``He did not complete that part of the form. That portion of the form was completed, but not by him.″

Safer wouldn’t elaborate.

``He was 19 years old when he did it,″ Safer said. ``He used the placard only a handful of times. When he recovered from his injury, he put the placard away forever.

``This is somebody who has not been near any kind of trouble in his life. He has lived an exemplary life.″

Now 22, McNown was a first-round draft choice of the Bears last April.

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