The future of Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romonowski became a little brighter on Friday as a Douglas County jury found the four-time Super Bowl winner innocent of all charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Romonowski, who faced a possible nine years in prison and a $100,000 fine, was also cleared on one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and deceit, and two counts of conspiracy to possess and obtain drugs illegally.
"It was very scary, said Romonowski. "If I was found guilty by the jury, it probably would have cost me a year's suspension of what I love to do. Oh, God, I was very, very worried."
Prosecuters contend that Romonowski was the leader of a conspiracy to obtain prescriptions written in other people's names for the appetite suppressant phentermine, which stimulates the central nervous system.
The twelve-person jury deliberated for more than four hours, before the verdict was reached.
"We took a straw poll when we began, and it was five to seven, guilty to not guilty," said Jury Foreman Dean Jakubczak, but once it became apparent that Romonowski never illegally possessed the drug, there was no conspiracy to commit that crime, Jakubczak said.
"Prosecutors also failed to prove that the drug was obtained illegally, so, again, there could be no conspiracy to illegally obtain it."
Douglas County lead-Attorney Michael Spear declined to comment following the verdict, but Mike Knight, spokesman for the district attorney's office, admitted that the case was very difficult to try and get a conviction on, yet stood by the fact that "A grand jury of citizens decided there was sufficient evidence to indict."
While both Pat Bowlen and Mike Shanahan were unavailable for comment, the Broncos released a statement saying that the team is "pleased with the jury's decision in the case involving Bill Romanowski. We are also pleased that the trial has come to a conclusion and that we, and Bill, can move forward as we prepare for the upcoming season."
While the Broncos may be moving forward, the Romonowski's still face more legal problems as Julie Romonowski, Bill's wife, still faces up to eight counts of obtaining phentermine by fraud and deceit and one count of conspiracy.
"I care about what people think about me, Romonowski told reporters. "I take a lot of pride in being a good person, being a role model, and a lot of that was in question for sure during the last two years."