Former USC and Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich pleaded not guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges stemming from his August arrest in Irvine, where police said he was found nude and carrying drugs in a residential backyard.
Marinovich, who has a history of narcotics-related arrests, was ordered to return to court Feb. 8 for a pretrial hearing. He faces a maximum three-year jail sentence if convicted of the drug and trespassing charges, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Marinovich’s arraignment had been scheduled for Dec. 20, but his attorney, Adam Cole, said then that his client had checked into a drug rehabilitation facility and requested “time to establish communication” with the ex-quarterback, according to court records.
Prosecutors insisted then that there be no more delays.
The 47-year-old ex-athlete is charged with one misdemeanor count each of public nudity, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, public attempted aggravated trespass of a residence and trespass with interference of property rights, along with one infraction for possession of marijuana.
Irvine police were called about 9 p.m. Aug. 19 regarding a “naked person seen on a trail,” according to Cmdr. Mike Hallinan. Officers were sent to Venta Spur Trail to investigate and, while looking for the suspect, “heard noises from a backyard off of Bluecoat,” he said.
Prosecutors and police allege that Marinovich, sans clothes, trespassed into the backyard of the home on Bluecoat, whose residents do not know him, and tried to open the sliding back door to get inside.
Marinovich is accused of leaving a brown bag containing meth, marijuana, syringes, a marijuana pipe and his wallet and driver’s license on the nearby trail on the same day.
Marinovich’s legal woes owing to drugs date back to January 1991, when he was arrested while at USC. He entered a drug-counseling program and eventually the charges were dropped.
Marinovich left USC after two years and was drafted in the first round by the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1991. He ascended to starter by the end of his first season and started his next as top quarterback, only to get released before the 1993 season.
Marinovich has acknowledged in the past that his drug use contributed to the failure of his NFL career. He had subsequent stints with the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the British Columbia Lions in the 1990s.
In 1997, he did three months in jail for cultivating marijuana in his home. He was arrested for heroin possession in 2001 and was on probation for that arrest when he was busted again in 2005.
Marinovich pleaded guilty in October 2007 to felony possession of a small amount of methamphetamine and misdemeanor syringe possession and resisting arrest.
Marinovich grew up on the Balboa Peninsula of Newport Beach and set local and national high school passing records while leading his team at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo.
—City News Service
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