Notre Dame's Rees pleads guilty to two charges
4:00 pm, July 23, 2012
SOUTH BEND -- It was a quarterback sneak of sorts.
According to a clerk in St. Joseph County's traffic and misdemeanor court, Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees arrived for his scheduled Tuesday court hearing a full 24 hours early.
"He said this was the day his attorney told him to show up," the clerk said, noting that similar mix-ups happen fairly regularly, and defendants are usually allowed to plead early.
Rees was originally scheduled to appear in court last week, after a May 3 party on Notre Dame Avenue ended with his arrest, along with the arrest of teammate Carlo Calabrese. That hearing, however, was rescheduled to Tuesday after Rees' attorney, George Horn, indicated a scheduling conflict.
According to the initial charges, police were sent to the party because of a noise complaint. Rees was arrested after he was spotted jumping a fence and running from police -- reportedly kneeing an officer in the abdomen during the arrest, leading to the battery charge.
Regardless of why he showed up early, prosecutors were prepared to present a plea deal worked out with Rees, in which the starting quarterback for much of the 2011 season would plead guilty to two misdemeanors, allowing the other two to be dismissed.
Rees, 20, pleaded guilty to minor consumption and resisting law enforcement, both misdemeanors. The charges of misdemeanor battery and resisting law enforcement were dropped.
As part of the plea deal, Rees was sentenced to 330 days on probation. He will also have to serve 50 hours of community service and write a letter to police officers apologizing for his actions.
Late this afternoon, Rees released a statement through Notre Dame apologizing for his actions.
"I apologize to my family, friends, the Notre Dame community, Fighting Irish fans and the South Bend Police Department for my actions this spring. I made a poor decision and I accept full responsibility," Rees' statement read.
"I learned a valuable lesson and witnessed first-hand that actions have consequences. This experience will make me a better person and I will focus on being a positive role model and citizen.
"To those who supported me during this difficult time, I offer my sincerest thanks. To the people I disappointed, I am dedicated to winning back your trust and confidence."
Lora Bentley, spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office, said Rees' early arrival in court today was a surprise for her office -- but not one that's unheard of with plea deals.
"That was a defense attorney's request to come in today and plead," Bentley said. "Just as a matter of process, we don't stop anyone from pleading early."
Besides the probation, community service and letter writing, Rees' punishment could also include an additional penalty -- restitution.
Rees is scheduled to appear at a hearing Aug. 20 to discuss paying possible restitution. Calabrese, who has been charged with misdemeanor intimidation, is next scheduled to appear in court Aug. 10 -- although both have been known to appear in court before their scheduled appointments.
Staff writer Dave Stephens: