Football players plead guilty

By Michael Berg

Five NIU football players and one former member of the team pleaded guilty Friday to charges stemming from a fight at the Sigma Chi fraternity house.

The preliminary hearing saw four members of the team and one former member pleading guilty to disorderly conduct. Team members Thomas Rhomberg, 22, Paul McAndrews, 21, Bradley Capes and Tim O’Brien, 21, along with former member Bart Geiser, 22, were all fined $150 plus $42 for court costs. They also were given nine months of court supervision, with a special stipulation that they have no contact with the fraternity house for the nine months.

Jeffrey Wroblewski, a junior tight end from Orland Park, had been charged with disorderly conduct and battery. He pleaded guilty to battery and the disorderly conduct charge was dropped. Wroblewski was fined $150 plus court costs, and must pay substantial restitution to the victim. He is forbidden to have any contact with the fraternity house or the victim for nine months during the court supervision.

Raymond Roberts, 21, a junior tight end from Chicago, had been charged with two counts of battery and one count of disorderly conduct. His case was continued until April 13.

Pamela Boucher, DeKalb assistant city attorney, said all the charges were ordinance violations. “They do not go on their permanent criminal record,” she said.

The six who pleaded guilty had a couple of options, Boucher said. “They talked to the city attorney (Ron Matekaitis) and discussed the possibility of going to trial, and what the city does if they plead guilty,” she said.

Roberts will be represented by counsel, Boucher said. “They’ll discuss having a bench or jury trial, or just pleading guilty,” she said. “A status defendant will either plead guilty or not, or ask for additional discovery to make a decision on what to plead.”

Boucher said the football players did not receive any special treatment. “The way we handled the fight with respect to the football players is we saw it as any other case,” she said. “They had no prior arrests, no previous history and were not treated differently than anyone else.”

The system works to treat everyone equally, and not make an example out of someone because of their status, Boucher said.

The fight occurred Jan. 29 at the Sigma Chi fraternity house, 910 Hillcrest Drive. Sources said the fight started when Geiser refused to leave a fraternity party and was thrown out by members of the fraternity. Geiser returned with members of the football team, and a brawl ensued with punches thrown and possibly baseball bats and golf clubs used.

The players also have faced “in-house penalties” from the NIU football team and sanctions from the Judicial Office.

Head coach Charlie Sadler previously said the penalties ranged from suspensions to probations.

The Judicial Office levied the sanctions against the players for “brawling and property damage” and required them to pay restitution charges.