The attorney for Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller told a Tallahassee, Fla., jury that the football player's status as a local celebrity is the reason why gambling and firearms charges were brought against his client, calling the charges bogus.
The Florida state's attorney's office has brought numerous charges against Florida State University players over the years, but has failed to get a conviction.
Fuller, who was a star at the school in the early 1990s, was arrested nine months ago after police entered his Tallahassee home and broke up a poker game with pots of thousands of dollars. State law allows card players to gamble only up to $10 a hand.
"The evidence is going to show the reason we're here is not what Mr. Fuller did, but who Mr. Fuller is," defense attorney Tim Jansen said in his opening statement. "Their investigation was detailed to target Mr. Fuller."
The trial, which began yesterday, is expected to conclude today or tomorrow. Prosecutor Matt Smith told the jury, consisting of five men and one woman, that Fuller kept a weapon on him during the card games and received part of the pot for hosting the games.
"He was standing around the table like a pit boss ... he took his cut," Smith said in his opening statement. "[An undercover agent will] tell you about how the defendant was armed the entire time ... the only one that was armed."
The prosecution called a number of witnesses yesterday.
Jansen said Fuller had a concealed weapon permit after a shootout at his home last January, an event that triggered the investigation shared by the Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff's Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which provided the assistance of an undercover agent from Miami.
If convicted, Fuller could face a maximum five-year sentence and $5,000 fine.
Fuller is the second Ravens player forced to go to court this week. Running back Jamal Lewis was sentenced to four months in prison and two months in a halfway house for his part in a drug-related crime in 2000.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.