Former Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez arrested
July 7, 2010
NEWARK, N.J. – Former Seton Hall basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez is in trouble again.
Fired in March for his antics on and off the court, Gonzalez has been arrested on charges of shoplifting from a New Jersey mall.
Gonzalez, 47, reported to Millburn police headquarters on Monday. He faces charges of criminal mischief, along with shoplifting. He is accused of taking a satchel worth roughly $1,400 from the Polo Ralph Lauren store in the Short Hills Mall on June 29.
He plans to plead not guilty, said defense attorney Gerald Krovatin, who also is representing Gonzalez in a lawsuit over his dismissal. He called the accusations a miscommunication and a series of misunderstandings.
“Bobby had no intention of stealing anything,” Krovatin said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
A spokeswoman for the Essex County prosecutor’s office says the shoplifting charge is a third-degree offense punishable by up to five years in jail.
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A court date has not been set, said the spokeswoman, Katherine Carter. The charges could either be downgraded and the case returned to municipal court or it could be heard in the county court, she said.
According to a police report, the store manager reported that the manager of a restaurant in the mall returned a men’s satchel. The restaurant manager said someone had come into the eatery, left the satchel with the hostess and never returned.
The satchel was reportedly damaged near where a sensor tag had been attached.
An investigation by Millburn police resulted in an arrest warrant for Gonzalez, of Harrison, N.Y., for allegedly removing the sensor device from the satchel and walking out of the store without paying for it.
Krovatin said Gonzalez voluntarily went to see the police, who released him on his own recognizance.
“He was not taken into custody,” Krovatin said. “He was issued summonses and complaints and went home.”
The fiery Gonzalez was fired the day after the Pirates lost 87-69 to Texas Tech in the opening round of the NIT. Seton Hall finished 19-13, its best season under Gonzalez, who departed with a 66-59 overall record and a 29-45 mark in the Big East Conference.
The Pirates failed to reach the NCAA tournament during his four years.
Seton Hall fired Gonzalez because of his conduct and that of his players, including several this past season.
A week before the season started, transfer guard Keon Lawrence was arrested on suspicion of driving the wrong way on the Garden State Parkway and seriously injuring another motorist. Lawrence was suspended for the season’s first eight games.
Junior forward Robert Mitchell and former player Kelly Whitney were arrested on suspicion of robbing eight people at gunpoint in mid-March, a day after Mitchell was kicked off the team by Gonzalez over a dispute about playing time.
Those cases have not been resolved.
Forward Herb Pope was ejected from the Pirates’ NIT game for hitting a Texas Tech player below the belt.
Before being hired at Seton Hall, Gonzalez carved a reputation as a brash, aggressive leader as he led Manhattan of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to four 20-win seasons and two NCAA tournaments in seven years. He took over for the fired Louis Orr at Seton Hall in the spring of 2006.
AP freelancer Jim Hague contributed to this report.