CLEVELAND — Charles Tigue may have a bright future ahead at Delta State.
But first the freshman defensive lineman will have to clear some things up in his hometown of Belleville, Ill.
Tigue, who is currently in camp with the Statesmen, is facing two counts of armed robbery charges for his part in a March 22, 2009 crime at a Belleville, Ill. park. Both charges are Class X felonies punishable by six to 30 years in prison.
According to court documents, Tigue and his cousin, Marnez Crawford, are accused of holding up a group of teenagers at East End Park. Last September, Crawford pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years.
Tigue, who verbally committed to Eastern Illinois while at East St. Louis Senior High School, is free on $50,000 bond and has a court date set for Sept. 19.
St. Clair County State Attorney Brendan Kelly said his office was unaware that Tigue had left the state.
“There’s nothing in the record, no court order which permits him to deviate from his condition of bond,” Kelly said in a phone interview. “And those conditions require him to remain in (Illinois). We were not aware that he had left the state, and we are investigating.”
When reached last week by the Delta Democrat Times, DSU head football coach Ron Roberts said he was unaware of Tigue’s legal troubles.
“This is my first time hearing about this,” Roberts said.
Messages left for Tigue’s attorney, Thomas Daley, went unreturned. But Daley told the Belleville News-Democrat Tuesday that he obtained permission from a judge to join the Statesmen, but would not give a name as to who the judge was.
“We just allowed him to go,” he told the newspaper. “We probably did it orally. As long as they show up at the docket calls, no one pays much attention where they are.”
Kelly, the state attorney, said plea negotiations are underway between Tigue and the prosecution. Neither Tigue nor Crawford had prior criminal records and were 16 at the time of the crime.
The case has been continued since April 9, 2009, mainly due to the switch of judges assigned to the case. Also, the case originated under the watch of Kelly’s predecessor.
In a April 21, 2009 letter written by Tigue to Circuit Court Judge John Baricevic, who no longer resides over the case, Tigue admitted to taking a “small part” in the crime.
“Even though I honestly didn’t fully participate, I still feel remorseful,” the then-high school sophomore wrote. “I do because I should’ve stopped my cousin and I also understand how traumatic such an experience must be to the victims.”
Several of the victims recounted the robbery in a story published by the Belleville News-Democrat.
“He was there when it happened and he went in one of the kids’ pockets and took money,” Meghan McKenzie, one of the four victims, told the newspaper. “Just because he didn’t have the gun didn’t mean he didn’t do anything.”
The mother of Tigue’s alleged accomplice, Linda Crawford, has also spoken out on the issue.
“They’re letting (Tigue) play football somewhere in Mississippi, and my son is sitting in prison,” she told the Belleville newspaper. “They were both at the robbery. It’s not fair.”
Meanwhile, DSU issued a statement Wednesday morning stating that they were unaware of Tigue’s legal troubles during his recruitment.
“Coach Roberts and the (Athletic) Department are in contact with Mr. Tigue’s family and attorney. We are monitoring the situation until the judicial process has had the time to work. At that time, Jeremy McClain, director of athletics, and coach Roberts will reassess the situation. No further comment will be made until that time.”
Tigue, who has since been released from ankle monitoring, was one of numerous announced DSU signees in January. The 6-foot-2, 226-pound defensive lineman continued to play for East St. Louis even after his arrest. However, during Tigue’s senior season, the school was forced to forfeit five games and a spot in the playoffs after it was revealed that Tigue lived outside the school district.