Cruse could enter first offender's program

UW defensive tackle had a pre-trial hearing Thursday morning

MADISON — Gino Cruse, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle on the University of Wisconsin football team, was offered a place in Dane County's first offenders program at his pre-trial hearing Thursday morning.

Cruse, 19, who is charged with misdemeanor criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct, was not present at the hearing. His attorney, Charles Giesen, appeared on his behalf.

Cruse allegedly threatened his girlfriend and broking a window of her car Feb. 6, when she accused him of cheating on her.

Defendants who enter the first offenders program admit to some measure of guilt in return for a suspended sentence and the opportunity to have the criminal charges against them expunged after completing the program's terms, which usually last for a year.

Cruse has a month to decide whether to accept the state's offer. If he declines, he would have the option of seeking a trial.

Cruse was initially suspended indefinitely from the football team under the terms of the university's Student-Athlete Discipline Policy. An appeals committee amended that suspension in early March, and Cruse has taken part in the Badgers' initial spring practices.

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