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Jose Canseco Skips Court Hearing

August 13, 2002

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MIAMI (AP) _ Former American League MVP Jose Canseco skipped a court hearing Tuesday where he and his twin brother were supposed to enter pleas on charges stemming from a nightclub scuffle on Halloween.

Circuit Judge Leonard E. Glick angrily told Canseco’s attorney that his client faces arrest if he does not attend the next hearing, which he set for Aug. 23.

Attorney Angel Ruiz said doctors told the former slugger he could not travel from California while he recovers from voluntary surgery he had last week. Ruiz did not say what type of surgery Canseco had.

Ozzie Canseco arrived about 20 minutes late at Tuesday’s hearing, saying ``someone had stolen my car keys.″

Glick was not satisfied with the excuse.

``Sometimes we feel like the Rodney Dangerfields of the judicial system. We don’t get no respect,″ he said. ``We told these defendants that they had to be here on time.″

The charges stem from a fight that the Canseco brothers got into with two California tourists at a Miami Beach nightclub on Halloween.

Jose Canseco told police that one of the tourists groped a woman the brothers were with. Police said Jose Canseco grabbed one man by the neck, punched him and broke his nose. Jose Canseco admitted pushing the first man but denied hitting him.

Jose Canseco said his twin pushed the other man. Police said the man needed 20 stitches in his lip.

Jose Canseco faces two felony counts of aggravated battery with bodily harm and one misdemeanor battery count. Ozzie Canseco was charged with one felony count of aggravated battery and two misdemeanors.

Prosecutors offered the brothers a plea deal last week. Under the offer, they had to plead guilty to the original charges, but the charges would not go on their criminal records.

Among the terms of the plea deal, Jose Canseco would receive five years’ probation without a chance of early termination. Ozzie Canseco would face three years’ probation.

Glick said Tuesday that if the brothers did not attend the Aug. 23 hearing, prosecutors would withdraw the plea offer and arrest warrants would be issued for both brothers. A trial date would then be set for the following week, he added.

Ruiz and Ozzie Canseco’s attorney, Gustavo Lage, said their clients were seriously considering the plea offer.

Ozzie Canseco declined comment as he left the hearing.

Jose Canseco was prosecuted twice for domestic violence in 1992 and 1998 and was ordered to undergo counseling both times.

The slugger ranks 26th on the career home run list with 446. The 1988 AL MVP was picked for six All-Star teams. He retired in May.

Ozzie Canseco had a brief major league career and played for two seasons with the minor league Newark (N.J.) Bears. He lives in suburban Fort Lauderdale.

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