Jury orders ‘Pacman’ Jones to pay $11 million

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam ”Pacman” Jones must pay $11

million in damages to two Las Vegas strip club employees injured in

2007 when a lone gunman claiming he was doing Jones’ bidding opened

fire outside the club.

Tommy Urbanski, a club manager who was left paralyzed from the

waist down, and Aaron Cudworth, a bouncer who was wounded, stand to

collect after the late Friday verdict. Urbanksi’s bones were

shattered in the shooting that occurred after Jones and several

other people were ejected from the club. The shooter later demanded

$15,000 from Jones for ”services rendered.”

Jones’ lawyer, Lisa Rasmussen, said there is no evidence Jones

was behind the shooting. She said Jones, who has played five years

in the NFL, didn’t have the cash to cover the award because he

won’t receive his first paycheck of the season until September.

Rasmussen plans to appeal the verdict.

”It’s obviously a devastating amount for him financially,”

Rasmussen said. ”He has really worked hard to make a comeback with

his NFL career.”

She said the jury in the civil case was likely swayed by the

sympathetic sight of Urbanski in his wheelchair and Jones’

celebrity.

”People perceive him as a person who is able to pay $11

million,” she said. ”Adam doesn’t even get paid until he plays

his first game.”

Cudworth’s lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, declared the verdict fair,

saying the bouncer continues to grapple with ”constant pain from

being shot in the chest and arm.” Cudworth was awarded $1.3

million, including $300,000 in punitive damages. The verdict was

first reported by the celebrity website TMZ.

”I am pleased that Mr. Jones has finally been held

accountable,” Schonfeld said, adding that his client ”is pleased

to have closure.”

Schonfeld said he wasn’t worried about an appeal or Jones’

alleged inability to pay the award.

”If he is making money, I am going to be there trying to

collect,” Schonfeld said.

Urbanski said by telephone Friday evening that he believes the

verdict will send a message to athletes and celebrities that they

can be held responsible for public ”rampaging,” even if they

escape criminal charges.

”They’ve got to clean up their acts,” he said. ”All of

them.”

Jones was not in court when the verdict came down. Rasmussen

said he was attending mandatory training in Cincinnati.

The Bengals re-signed Jones in March for a third season. His

one-year contract is reportedly worth $950,000, including

incentives. Rasmussen said Jones’ salary will be distributed in 16

checks throughout the season and he only collects if he is healthy

enough to play.

Jones was sidelined with a neck injury last season, but still

played in eight games, including the last seven as a starter. He

had 31 tackles.

This is the latest legal setback for Jones, who pleaded guilty

to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in January after he

was accused of shouting profanities and trying to pull away as

officers arrested him at a downtown Cincinnati bar last year. Jones

received a year of probation and community service.

The Las Vegas case stems from a shooting after a strip club

brawl on NBA All-Star weekend in February 2007. Police alleged

Jones incited the fight by throwing wads of dollar bills toward a

stage, then becoming angry when the dancers picked up the

money.

Jones and his entourage were removed from the club, and police

claimed Jones met briefly with the accused shooter, Arvin Kenti

Edwards, before Edwards opened fire.

Jones denied having a role in the shooting. He pleaded an

equivalent of no contest to misdemeanor conspiracy to commit

disorderly conduct.

Edwards is serving four to 10 years in prison for his so-called

Alford plea to attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon. The

plea is not an admission of guilt, but acknowledges that

prosecutors could have proven the case against him.

”We always maintained that there was never any direct

communication between Adam Jones and the actual shooter,”

Rasmussen said.

Jones is slated to speak about his legal challenges at the NFL

rookie symposium next week.

”It’s something he has been going through for five years and it

has devastated him on many levels,” Rasmussen said of the Las

Vegas shooting. ”Hopefully he will be able to go on and focus on

football.”

Cristina Silva can be reached at

https://twitter.com/cristymsilva