DeAndre Baker's attorney believes the Giants cornerback is the victim of a "shakedown" and is being accused of a crime he did not commit. But he also believes Baker has been "scared straight" by this brush with the law, and will come out of this a better man than he was before.
"He's got an opportunity to become the next Ray Lewis and not the next Ray Rice," attorney Patrick G. Patel said in an exclusive interview with SNY late Sunday night. "There's two guys who went in two different directions. I told DeAndre that. And he seems very focused. He's scared straight. I can say that."
The 22-year-old Baker has a long way to go, of course, before anyone sees whether he can reclaim his NFL career as Lewis once did after being accused of murder, or if his career will end the way Rice's did after he was arrested for domestic assault. First, Baker has to deal with the four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault that he was charged with in Broward County, Fla., after an incident on Wednesday night.
Patel, though, believes the case against Baker is "complete garbage." He said four of the witnesses have already recanted their testimony and that he and Bradford Cohen, Baker's other attorney, found other independent witnesses "that can attest to his innocence." He said everything about the arrest warrant that was made public is wrong, from the idea that the incident stemmed from Baker losing $70,000 in gambling, to the description of the expensive watches that Baker allegedly stole, to the idea that there was any robbery at all.
"There was no robbery," Patel said. "Nothing at all. He's absolutely taking that position. And I'm confident the state is going to look at all the facts and realize it's absurd that a kid making $2 million a year is going to steal a fake watch."
As for why the alleged victims would lie about being robbed by Baker, Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and a third, unidentified man in a red mask, Patel said, "Someone should look into the record of the four individuals. It's longer than a football field."
"The situation is simple: Dre was the first-round draft choice at the party," Patel said. "There were no other first-round draft picks. Dunbar is an NFL athlete too. These two guys were the marks."
All the details that prove that, he said, will come out in time. The state of Florida now has 30 days to decide whether to officially charge him, and Patel doesn't think they will. For now, Baker is out on $200,000 bond and temporarily staying at Patel's house in Florida. Eventually, Patel said, they will petition the court to transfer his bond to New Jersey so Baker can rejoin the Giants.
And he absolutely expects him to rejoin the Giants, who have told him to stay away from the "virtual" offseason program for now to focus on his legal issues. Patel said "The point is they want him to stay away from right now to not create a distraction. We have no issue with that."
He said his expectation is that Baker could rejoin the virtual offseason program as soon as next week.
And when he does, Patel said, the Giants will see "a changed man," who understands he had "a rough year" with the team last year when his attitude and work ethic became an issue with coaches and teammates. Patel believes this incident has changed Baker's focus and he won't be a problem anymore.
"He seems like changed individual," Patel said. "In two days. Sometimes going to jail does that. He's scared straight. He's completely focused on what he has to do. He's just going back to work. And he's certainly looking forward to nobody taking his position. He doesn't want anybody taking his position as the Giants' starting cornerback."