LSU defensive back Rickey Jefferson cuts plea deal in Mardi Gras scuffle

LSU defensive back Rickey Jefferson and two others pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanors stemming from a fight with a sheriff’s deputy at a Mardi Gras parade in February.

The three were each facing a felony charge of resisting an officer by violence, but cut a deal with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office to instead plead to the lesser charge of resisting arrest.

First Assistant District Attorney Stephen Wimberly described the pleas as a “fair and just resolution to the case,” and said several factors contributed to the deals: the fact that Jefferson, Joe Sharp and David Sampson, all 17-years-old at the time, had no prior records, and appeared to have promising futures. But the most key factor, he said, was an apology the three men gave to Detective Joshua Collins and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in 24th Judicial District Court Judge Scott Schlegel’s courtroom.

Jefferson, a Destrehan High School standout who signed with LSU shortly after the February incident, is the younger brother of former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Wimberly said the DA’s office worked closely with the sheriff’s office on the plea agreement and wouldn’t have gone forward without its input.

“In this case we felt an apology and acceptance (of responsibility) was first and foremost,” Wimberly said.

Wimberly acknowledged the public’s interest in the case, but said that Jefferson’s profile as a football player “is of no moment to us.”

Attorneys for the teens said they are happy to have the matter settled.

“Rickey appreciates the opportunity to get this all behind him and is thankful to the Sheriff and District Attorney,” said Lance Unglesby, Jefferson’s attorney, in a written statement. “Louisiana is going to get to know Rickey over the years to come, and I can tell you there is something special about him. I look forward to watching people getting to know him like I have and beyond the headline of this story.”

A spokesman for the LSU athletics department said the university would have no comment on the case.

Sharp’s attorney, Robert W. Hjortsberg, said the deal was good for all the defendants because it prevents an “unfortunate incident” from haunting three good kids with bright futures in front of them.

Sharp, he said, has a scholarship to play football at Mississippi College.

Sampson allegedly provoked the incident by shouting profanity at sheriff’s detectives near Severn Avenue and Veterans Boulevard during a Mardi Gras parade, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

Detective Joshua Collins told Sampson to stop using profane language, but Sampson continued to yell at the detective, the affidavit said.

Collins and Sampson scuffled in the middle of the parade route. Jefferson and Sharp then intervened and attacked the detective, which allowed Sampson to run away, the affidavit said.

Collins eventually broke free and chased after Sampson, tackled him and placed him in handcuffs.

As part of the deal reached Monday, the three must fulfill a standard two-year probation of community service, drug testing and other obligations. Jefferson must pay court fees and fines of $2,480.