DeAndre Baker is no longer under the gun.
The Broward County (Fla.) State Attorney’s office dropped all charges against the former Giants cornerback Monday and is no longer prosecuting its case against him.
William Dean, the attorney for three of Baker’s four alleged victims in a May 13 armed robbery, was arrested Monday morning in North Miami Beach and charged with trying to extort Baker.
Members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Public Corruption Unit said they began investigating Dean, 50, in August after information emerged that Dean was attempting to extort Baker, 23, on behalf of three clients.
According to investigators, Dean wanted Baker to pay each of his clients more than $266,000, and, in exchange, the three alleged victims would either stop cooperating with prosecutors in the criminal case or change their initial sworn statements to police to help Baker.
Evidence in the case reveals that Dean told Baker’s attorney that his clients would do “anything you want, so long as the money is right,” according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
The Broward County State Attorney’s office, therefore, announced a “nolle prosequi of all charges against DeAndre L. Baker.” He had faced four counts of robbery with a firearm.
The Giants released Baker on Sept. 7 before the season and will not re-sign the troubled former first round pick, according to sources. The NFL also is expected to discipline Baker once it concludes its own investigation.
But on Monday, league sources said Baker was free to sign with an NFL team and practice and play while the investigation remains open.
“We have been monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy,” the league said. “Baker remains subject to discipline based on results of that investigation. At this time, and following (Monday’s) disposition, Baker is eligible to sign with a club.”
Prosecutors said Monday that “the alleged victims and the known witnesses have become uncooperative and their credibility is inalterably tarnished.”
The State also had moved to have witness Dominic Johnson “held in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions.” The defendant’s attorney had moved to have the fourth alleged victim held in contempt of court for failing to appear for a deposition, as well.
Dean’s three clients, meanwhile, did in fact provide altered testimony “in the form of written, signed, notarized but identical in content affidavits in which the alleged victims recanted their three previous sworn statements,” prosecutors said.
The three alleged victims now “asserted they did not get an accurate look at the events as they occurred, that DeAndre Baker was present but not involved in any criminal act, and that they were not robbed or assaulted.”
If that affidavit language sounds familiar, that’s because it’s similar to the affidavits all four victims allegedly signed at an alleged May 15 payoff to exonerate Baker’s alleged accomplice, Seahawks corner Quinton Dunbar.
Prosecutors opted not to charge Dunbar in August, citing “insufficient evidence,” even though investigators had uncovered ample evidence that all four alleged victims had accepted about $60,000 to recant on Dunbar at the Miami office of Dunbar’s now-former attorney, Michael Grieco.
Grieco was removed from the case but not arrested or prosecuted by either the Broward State Attorney’s office or Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office.
“The victims’ recent claims that Baker committed no crime flies in the face of their original testimonies on the night of the alleged incident, as well as other evidence previously released by police.”
One victim said Baker allegedly “put a gun in (an) old man’s face” and started “stripping” watches and robbing cash, turning a party celebration into a chaotic dash for the doorways.
One victim told police that “Baker pulled the gun. Baker’s the first one that pulled — that upped the gun. It was like he was playing in a movie or something.”
Johnson, the Baker-Dunbar acquaintance who arranged the alleged payoff on Dunbar’s behalf, implicated both NFL players in Instagram direct messages and texts that same night. He referred to Baker as “Dre.”
“Bra how about Dre them just robbed the dice game. Dunbar told them n — — do that,” Johnson wrote in a group text on May 14 at 1 a.m., about two hours after the robbery.
Talking about Baker, Johnson texted: “Yes his n — did the dirty work and he had his gun out to telling n — to shoot people (sic). … Dre and Dunbar was directing it.”
Police have cell phone location data that placed Baker at a Quality Inn the night before, on May 12, where one alleged victim said Baker had tried to steal back tens of thousands of dollars he had lost gambling.
Police also have cell phone location data that placed Baker at the alleged robbery scene in Miramar on May 13, and in Miami when the alleged payoff occurred at Grieco’s office on May 15 — though Baker’s attorney told investigators he was with him most of that day.
The day of the alleged payoff, Baker allegedly told Johnson via Instagram: “Yo I’m in the city now getting cash how much to bring ?? I’m tryna get there too u ASAP.” Baker followed up with “????” and then stopped communicating when Johnson told him the address instead of an amount of money.
In the alleged robbery’s aftermath, the four alleged victims and Johnson also said they heard rumors that a six-figure murder contract was sought against the victims to ensure they would never testify, police reports reveal.
Several victims said word on the street cited a $100,000 “contract … on our heads” in a chilling list of details from the circumstances surrounding the alleged payoff on Dunbar’s behalf.
“(People) was already telling us, you know, if we have to come to Miami and go to court, we wouldn’t make it through the court (hearing),” one victim said. “That was the threats that we were getting … And the guys are going to have you guys killed coming down here to court.”
Johnson, in the days after the robbery, allegedly stressed how much danger everyone was in.
“Everybody in Miami knows that these guys don’t play, man,” a victim recounted Johnson telling him. “They’re going to go free anyway and we can never come back to Miami again. He was like, ‘man, I’m telling you these guys man, you know, they just ain’t no NFL guys, man. These guys gangsters.’”
The Daily News asked Brad Cohen, Baker’s attorney if he wished to comment on Monday’s news. Cohen said he would be happy to comment if the News apologized for supposedly insinuating that Baker was part of a payoff.
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