Mike Goodson pleads not guilty
MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- New York Jets running back Mike Goodson pleaded not guilty to the drugs and weapons charges against him at his arraignment in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, N.J. on Wednesday morning.
Goodson, in a suit and tie, was present alongside his attorney, Anthony J. Fusco, and his next court appearance will be on June 12.
"We firmly believe that gun charge is not going to last against Mike," Fusco said. "We're going to be back in June, there will be negotiations with the prosecutor and hopefully as their investigation unfolds, they will learn that it's not him."
He added: "He is denying these charges, he's got a great case, we're putting in a really good defense, and a lot of people are for him. He's a really great guy. Message to the fans: just hold on because he is and he wants his fans to hold on and root for the Jets this year."
Goodson, 25, was arrested on May 17 after being discovered after 3 a.m. ET in a stopped car on Route 80 in New Jersey. Goodson, who was intoxicated on the day of his arrest, was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a loaded handgun, possession of marijuana (under 50 grams), possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of hollow point ammunition.
During the court proceedings Wednesday, it was revealed that Goodson was specifically charged with possessing two partially smoked marijuana cigars.
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"That's what we were told," Fusco said. "We're not acknowledging anything of it. What I am told is that the police arriving at the scene took Mike to the hospital, but it had nothing to do with drugs."
According to USA Today, an officer said in an affidavit that he found marijuana in Goodson's pocket, and also described Goodson as "incoherent, slobbering and had vomited all over himself as well as the interior of the vehicle."
If Goodson is convicted of unlawful possession of a handgun, the "Graves Act" will be enforced. It's a New Jersey act that carries a minimum sentence of three years in prison. If convicted, Goodson could face up to 10 years in prison due to it being a second-degree offense. Fusco said the gun charges could take a while.
Fusco said Goodson will apply for Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), which skirts around regular prosecution proceedings with alternative services, but said it will be tough to do since it's a second-degree offense. Fusco said it's not something he really wants to pursue.
Goodson has been cooperating and been in contact with the Jets and the NFL. The running back met with Jets general manager John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan on Monday and told them the gun did not belong to him, Fusco told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday. Fusco also said he personally talked with Jets officials to reiterate that the gun did not belong to Goodson.
Goodson missed his second straight organized team activity on Wednesday, and it's Fusco's understanding that the Jets are advising Goodson not to participate, despite OTAs being voluntary. He also said that he and Goodson both fully understand the team's stance.
A team spokesperson declined to comment. Fusco added that it's a possibility that Goodson could eventually start participating in team activities while the legal matters run their course. Goodson is working out on his own to stay in shape, according to Fusco.
"He's upset. It's something he didn't want to happen," Fusco said. "Mike has no record, whatsoever, a lot of people ask me about that. He has been and will continue to cooperate with the New York Jets and the NFL and will abide by whatever they say."
The driver of the vehicle, 31-year-old Garant Evans, pleaded not guilty to his charges during an arraignment Tuesday via video conference. Evans was charged with the same five charges as Goodson, as well as motor vehicle summonses, DWI and possession of a weapon by persons prohibited due to Evans having a prior felony conviction.
Fusco said Wednesday that Goodson has known Evans for three weeks. The Morris County records office said at approximately noon on Wednesday that Evans was still being held at the Morris County Correctional Facility. His bail has been dropped from $150,000 to $75,000.
The Jets signed Goodson to a three-year, $6.9 million deal in the offseason, and he is expected to compete for the vacant starting running back position. Last year's starter, Shonn Greene, signed with Tennessee in the offseason, and Goodson is slated to compete for the job with fellow offseason acquisition Chris Ivory and returnees Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight.
The Jets have not commented specifically on Goodson's case. His next court date is set on the second day of the Jets' mandatory three-day minicamp in June.
"We're trying to win games and do the right thing. Truth, justice and the American way," Jets owner Woody Johnson said to reporters Monday at the NFL owners meetings. "We live by it, we really do."
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