| ||Associated Press|
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A jury needed only 50 minutes Tuesday
to acquit former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski of a
charge he tried to bribe a policeman to release his roommate.
Janikowski, the first-round draft choice of the Oakland Raiders,
was accused of offering the officer $300 to release his friend, who
had been arrested on a trespassing charge after not being allowed
into a nightclub.
The defense argued that the 22-year-old native of Poland was
simply trying to help out a friend and never had any intention of
breaking the law. They contended Janikowski might easily have
misunderstood what was happening because he has been in the
country only six years and is still learning English.
But the prosecution's lead witness, former Tallahassee police
Officer Chris Knight, said he was convinced Janikowski tried to
bribe him on Jan. 23 with three $100 bills.
"He started counting it out to me, smiling," testified Knight,
who recently left the Tallahassee Police Department and now works
for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Janikowski, a key member of the national champion Seminoles,
faced up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine and deportation if
Assistant state attorney Lee Jantzen called two witnesses,
including Knight, who was working off duty as a bouncer at the
"You don't just throw money at a police officer without some
kind of an arrangement," Jantzen said in his closing argument.
But the defense said Janikowski thought he could keep his
roommate, Aaron Silverman, 26, from going to jail by paying a fine
on the spot.
"On that evidence, I just couldn't see how that jury could
return a verdict of guilty with the doubt that permeated this whole
thing," defense attorney Deeno Kitchen said. "You'd have to
believe he's a liar and a perjurer."
At one point, the 255-pound Janikowski broke down on the stand
when he explained why he shaves his head. He does so in memory of a
boyhood soccer teammate in Poland who died in an accident several
But he was all smiles after the verdict, hugging his father,
lawyers and agent Paul Healy of Jacksonville.
When asked about the verdict, Janikowski said, "It couldn't be
Healy nearly wound up in more trouble for a celebratory outburst
following the announcement of the verdict. He let out a whoop and
began to use his cell phone in the courtroom, angering Circuit
Judge George Reynolds III.
Reynolds, however, decided against a fine after Healy
Janikowski and his father, Henryk, immediately left the
courthouse and headed for attorney Steve Dobson's office.
Janikowski leaves early Wednesday for Oakland, Calif., where he
will begin four days of workouts with the Raiders before returning
"He can move on now with his career," Healy said. "It's a
very unfortunate part of his life, but he's now put it behind him.
I think he's learned a very valuable lesson throughout this whole
|Sebastian Janikowski prepares to hear the verdict Tuesday.|| |