By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Former pro basketball star Dennis Rodman has been charged with driving the wrong way on a California highway and forcing another car to swerve into a concrete dividing wall before he left the scene, prosecutors said.
The Orange County district attorney’s office said it brought the hit-and-run charges against Rodman on Monday in connection with the July 20 incident in Santa Ana. The case represents the Hall of Fame player’s latest brush with the law.
Rodman, a former National Basketball Association forward with the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls, drove his sport utility vehicle the wrong way on Interstate 5 in the carpool lane, prosecutors said in a statement. Prosecutors did not say whether the occupants of the other vehicle were injured.
Prosecutors charged Rodman, 55, with hit-and-run that causes property damage, driving a motor vehicle across a dividing section, giving false information to a police officer and driving without a valid license.
He faces up to two years in jail if convicted, and was ordered to appear in court on Jan. 20.
Rodman’s attorney, Paul S. Meyer, said in a statement that the exit ramp the retired basketball player entered did not have adequate signage to prevent confusion.
“Mr. Rodman turned and corrected the driving error, stopped and spoke with the people in the other car. Their cars never touched,” Meyer said.
The driver of a sedan driving the correct way had to swerve to avoid a head-on collision with Rodman’s SUV and slammed into a concrete wall along the carpool lane, prosecutors said.
The driver of the sedan called 911 and California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers responded, but when they arrived Rodman had driven away, prosecutors said.
CHP investigators determined Rodman was the SUV driver but when they eventually spoke to him he gave false information about the incident, prosecutors said.
Rodman, nicknamed “The Worm” during his playing career, is considered one of the best defensive players and rebounders in NBA history.
He was convicted at least twice of driving under the influence, in 2000 and 2004, according to media reports at the time.
He made international headlines in 2013 by visiting North Korea, where he socialized with the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)