Jason Gwaltney pleads not guilty in Huntington burglary
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Jason Gwaltney, one of Long Island's most accomplished high school football players, stood handcuffed before a judge Thursday and pleaded not guilty to weapons and burglary charges.
Bail was set at $75,000.
Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Carl Borelli told Judge Fernando Camacho during a brief afternoon hearing in State Supreme Court in Central Islip that Gwaltney was among five men who took part in a Huntington home invasion last week.
Gwaltney's attorney, Joseph V. Cozzo, asked for significantly lower bail than the other four defendants because prosecutors acknowledge that Gwaltney is alleged to have driven the car to and from the home and did not enter.
Gwaltney, 25, of Brentwood, had no knowledge of the four others' intent to burglarize the home, nor did he know they were armed, and Gwaltney's statements to police after being arrested back that up, his attorney said.
With Gwaltney standing by his side in blue workout pants and a white long-sleeved shirt, Cozzo also told the judge that Gwaltney is scheduled to take part in a scouting combine at the New York Jets' facility March 2 because "he still has hopes and ambitions of playing in the NFL." Cozzo asked for bail to be set at $2,500, which Camacho denied.
Gwaltney did not post bail. Following the arraignment, Cozzo said he hopes to get Gwaltney released in time for the scouting combine.
"I'm hoping for supervised release," he said.
Gwaltney was joined in court by several family members, including his half-brother Scooter Berry, who played alongside Gwaltney at North Babylon High School and West Virginia University. Family members declined to comment.
Gwaltney was the most prolific running back in Long Island history, compiling a record 7,800 yards on 948 carries between 2001 and 2004 at North Babylon. His collegiate career included stops at West Virginia, LIU Post and Kean University in New Jersey.
Gwaltney and the other four defendants are due back in court Feb. 26.