A suspended Ohio University football player who was arrested for first-degree felony aggravated robbery pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of plain robbery in Athens County Common Pleas Court Monday, and received diversion rather than prison or jail time.
Jacob F. Ready, 19, of Lakewood, will have to complete two years in the Athens County Empowerment Program run by the Prosecutor’s Office while his sentence is held in abeyance. If he does not successfully complete the program, he faces up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine for third-degree felony robbery.
Ready is one of three OU football players arrested after a Dec. 7 incident in which they are alleged to have broken into an apartment at University Commons on South Shafer Street. Wearing masks and wielding weapons, they allegedly threatened the life of at least one occupant and made off with a small amount of marijuana and $5,000 in cash.
A fourth OU student who is not a student-athlete is said to have driven them to the scene and was also charged.
Arrested were Ready and Desmond A. Noel, 18, of Cincinnati, both freshman offensive linemen for the Bobcats, and freshman wide-receiver Kyle Belack, 20, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The football players, none of whom had seen game-time action this season, have been suspended from the team and removed from the Bobcats roster.
Court documents show that Ready will pay $700 in diversion program costs, which includes the program’s $300 fee for each of his two years in the program, and a one-time fee of $100 because the payments are being made in installments.
Another document, filed by Ready’s defense attorney K. Robert Toy of Athens, shows that he also forfeited $1,200 in lieu of a 2015 Nissan Altima titled in his mother’s name that was impounded by police after being used in the crime. It allegedly was driven by the non-student.
Of that $1,200, the court document shows, $720 will be forfeited to the Athens Police Department Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF), while $480 will be forfeited to the Prosecutor’s Office LETF.
Ready pleaded to a bill of information, foregoing the grand jury indictment process. Charges against his co-defendants have been dismissed from Athens County Municipal Court, and grand jury indictments against them in Athens County Common Pleas Court are expected in the coming weeks.
The complaint against Ready in Municipal Court alleged that he had a solid wood club with a handle made of tape in his possession during the crime, and threatened multiple people with the weapon. It further alleged that he knocked two holes in a bathroom door with the club and kicked in a locked bedroom door where two victims were attempting to hide.
County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said Tuesday that the investigation into the case is ongoing, and charges against additional people are likely to be forthcoming in the case, including one third party suspected of conspiracy after the fact.
He said that the $5,000 in money alleged to have been taken in the robbery is being held in evidence, as is the marijuana.
Blackburn said that the ACE diversion program is generally (but not always) used for first-time offenders or offenders in circumstances where the offense is not likely to reoccur.
“The goal here is to make people better and to fix the wrongs of society,” he said. “No one got hurt. Young – I don’t want to say stupid but – young, stupid people stole illegal money from young, stupid people.”
Blackburn said that Ready was cooperative following his arrest, confessing at the scene, confessing to prosecutors and cooperating with investigators.
He confirmed that his office met with Belack and his attorney Sky Pettey of Athens on Monday. He said Noel has retained counsel.
Blackburn predicted the investigation, subsequent indictments and cases will proceed quickly.
Regarding diversion fees, Blackburn explained that $300 per year is the baseline fee for the program, though some people get into the program for free because they can’t afford it, while others pay more because of special circumstances such as living out of state that increase expenses for administration of the program.
The fees related to diversion, he said, as well as money forfeited, are determined by agreement between prosecutors, defense counsel and the judge presiding over the case.