Bears' Lineman Johnson Pleads Guilty

Friday, February 9th 2007, 7:08 am
By: News On 6

SKOKIE, Ill. (AP) _ Bears defensive lineman Terry ``Tank'' Johnson pleaded guilty Thursday to violating probation in a 2005 gun case.

Cook County Judge John Moran denied a request to lift the player's home confinement, but said Johnson could leave his house to attend practices. Moran delayed sentencing until March 15 so that a presentencing investigation can be done.

The hearing Thursday came four days after Indianapolis beat Chicago 29-17 in the Super Bowl. The same judge allowed Johnson to travel to Miami for the game.

Dressed in a gray suit, Johnson arrived early for the hearing and signed autographs for fans while waiting for the courtroom to open. After the hearing, he left without speaking to reporters.

Johnson was arrested on misdemeanor weapons charges Dec. 14 after police raided his home in the Lake County town of Gurnee, about 40 miles northwest of Chicago, and found six unregistered firearms.

At the time, he was on probation in a November 2005 Cook County case. In that case, he'd pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from an arrest in which a nightclub valet reported seeing Johnson with a handgun in his sport utility vehicle.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty to the Lake County charges in the latest arrest.

Johnson's bodyguard, Willie B. Posey, was arrested on felony drug charges after the raid on Johnson's home. Posey was shot and killed two days later during an early morning fight while he and Johnson were at a nightclub in Chicago.

The Bears suspended Johnson for one game for being out at the club.

Defense attorneys on Thursday called four character witnesses to the stand.

Cliff Stein, a Bears attorney who handles player contracts, said Johnson and his family met with team officials after Posey was killed. He said Johnson saved his job by providing the team with a plan for changes he wanted to make in his life, Stein said.

``We're always going to look at the facts. But I would say, generally, he wouldn't have much of a future with the team if something else were to happen,'' Stein said.

The plan was submitted to the court as evidence Thursday and defense attorneys asked that it remain under seal.

Bears defensive line coach Don Johnson also testified, saying the player has become more focused since his arrest.

``He realizes that it's a privilege to play in the NFL,'' the coach said. Asked by defense attorney Frank Himel is he's known Tank Johnson to be violent, the coach said, ``Only on Sunday after the opening kickoff.''