Former Gopher misses hearing; judge reschedules for today

Kamariea Forcier

Billy Dee Cockerham, another football player involved in the incident with Joe Justice, appeared before the judge Tuesday.
Former Gophers football player Joseph Justice failed to appear before a Ramsey County judge Tuesday in connection with a May 24 credit card fraud incident.
His attorney, Keith Hanzel, said Justice got the court date mixed up and will instead go before a judge today.
“He’s a nice kid,” Hanzel said. “He was really apologetic” about missing the date.
Cockerham and Justice were charged with felony credit fraud and theft stemming from an incident at Dayton’s department store in the Rosedale shopping center in Roseville. Two women, described as the men’s girlfriends in the complaint, were also charged in connection with the incident.
As a result of the charges, Justice was dismissed from the Gophers football team and Cockerham was suspended pending further investigation.
On May 24, both men were at the Rosedale Dayton’s, where Tara M. Taylor, described as Justice’s girlfriend in the complaint, worked.
According to the complaint, Justice and Adrian D. Ellis, a member of the Gophers track team who was not charged in the incident, were seen by Dayton’s loss prevention employees carrying several items of clothing from the men’s department to the juniors department where Taylor was working.
After speaking with Taylor for a few minutes, the two men carried the clothing back to the men’s department. Justice later admitted he was “scared off at the last minute” from illegally charging the merchandise, according to the complaint.
Cockerham and his girlfriend, Sabrina Rosario, who were in the juniors department during this time, started selecting clothing and placing it on the counter in front of Taylor. Cockerham then walked to the men’s department, where he was given Justice’s Dayton’s credit card, according to the complaint.
Cockerham handed the card to Taylor, who charged some of the clothing to a stolen account number that was handwritten on the back of Justice’s card. Taylor placed both charged and uncharged clothing into two shopping bags and handed the parcels of clothing to Cockerham and Rosario, according to the complaint.
Both Cockerham’s and Justice’s attorneys want the athletes accepted into a diversion program, which means the men would be on probation for one year. At the end of that year, the men’s criminal charges would be dismissed.
Cockerham will return to court July 18, when the court will have a hearing to see if he is eligible for the program.