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Nets Guard Chris Childs Robbed

October 24, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ New Jersey Nets guard Chris Childs was held up at gunpoint and robbed of about $30,000 worth of jewelry and cash as he was leaving Sean ``P. Diddy″ Combs’ Manhattan nightclub, police said.

Four men, armed with a loaded pistol, accosted Childs outside the club early Tuesday. The robbery was about 1:30 a.m., said Sgt. Kevin Hayes, a police spokesman.

The Nets, who had suspended Childs earlier Tuesday for failing to be in playing condition, said the guard was not injured.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Wallack said police captured three of the men and Childs identified them almost immediately after they relieved him of the cash and jewelry outside Combs’ club, Justin’s.

The defendants, Shamar Leggette, 20, of Brooklyn, Emanuel Avent, 28, of Queens, and Bernard Owens, 29, Brooklyn, were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on robbery and weapons charges. They each could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Judge Ellen Coin ordered bail of $150,000 each for Leggette and Avent and $100,000 for Owens. She scheduled a hearing for Friday.

Childs had just left the club and was walking to his Mercedes parked near the club when the four men approached him, police said.

The suspects fled but were arrested a short time later in and near a subway station, Hayes said.

He said police recovered all the stolen goods except for a neck chain.

Wallack told the judge the defendants specifically staked out Justin’s and targeted Childs, who was in the club to attend a birthday party for former New York Giants linebacker Jesse Armstead, who now plays for the Washington Redskins.

Wallack said Owens had been inside the club and that he left just moments before Childs did. As Childs was walking to his Mercedes-Benz, Wallack said, he was accosted by four men, one of whom leveled a 9mm handgun at him.

Avent, Wallack said, told Childs, ``You know what this is.″ Childs then noticed Leggette pointing the gun at him, the prosecutor said. He said Avent then snatched the gold chain off Childs’ neck and ordered him, ``Empty your pockets.″

After taking Childs’ $20,000 diamond-encrusted watch, his cell phone and about $800 cash, Avent dropped the money to the ground and patted the Nets star down, prosecutors said. Leggette, still holding the gun, picked up the money and Avent said, ``Shoot him,″ Wallack said.

Childs quickly drew attention to his $3,500 diamond ring, which he handed over to Avent, the prosecutor said.

Meanwhile, Wallack said, Owens approached Childs’ manager, Bradley Morris, who was standing nearby. He said Owens demanded money from Morris, patted him down and then accepted Childs’ watch, ring and cell phone from Avent.

At that point, Owens said to the others, ``Let’s go,″ Wallack said. He said the three defendants and an unapprehended fourth man, believed to have been the lookout, fled.

Three of the suspects were arrested a short time later in and near a subway station, Hayes said. He said police recovered $709 and all the stolen goods except for a neck chain.

Leggette’s lawyer, Adam Freedman, said, ``My client denies being involved.″ He said the ``far too high″ bail amounts were set because this is a ``celebrity″ case.

Owens’ lawyer, Carol Abramowitz, said the bail was unreasonably high because Childs is a celebrity and wouldn’t comment further.

Avent’s lawyer, Eric Siegle, said his client denied that he was involved in the robbery.

On Wednesday night, Childs’ agent said the point guard will not contest the suspension.

``He is above his playing weight. That’s not in dispute,″ Lon Babby said in a telephone interview. ``What may be in dispute is the reason he is overweight. It’s not productive at this point to fight about it.

``We have to get him in a position where he can play and make a contribution to the team and earn the respect of his teammates,″ Babby said.

Babby did not rule out filing a grievance against the defending Eastern Conference champions. The suspension is costing Childs roughly $20,000 a game.

Nets general manager Rod Thorn suspended the 34-year-old Childs on Tuesday. He said that Childs, who signed to a $3.6 million, two-year contract as a free agent this summer, was well over his 205-to-210 pound playing weight.

Babby blamed the weight problem on an Achilles’ injury in Childs’ right foot that has prevented him from practicing since training camp opened. The agent said he didn’t know how much his client weighed.

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