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Athletes sent to dean's program for theft

By Audrey DeAnda and Chris Jackson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
September 2, 1999

After UAPD detectives identified three UA football players as suspects in an Aug. 19 theft from a university employee, the Pima County attorney yesterday decided against charging the players, instead sending them to the campus Diversion Program.

The athletes and head football coach Dick Tomey last night said they were not informed of the investigation's completion and declined further comment.

Freshman wide receiver Bobby Wade, sophomore strong safety Zaharius Johnson and junior cornerback Anthony Banks were named suspects after University of Arizona police completed their investigation earlier this week, said Sgt. Michael Smith, a UAPD spokesman.

Detectives completed the interviews and yesterday handed the case over to the Pima County attorney for review, Smith said.

"It's a high-profile case, so our department (opted) to give it to them," Smith said. "It's up to the county attorney's office to determine if the case is strong enough and warrants arrests. Then charges will be brought about that way."

Dan Benevides, a Pima County attorney's spokesman, said the office reviewed the case and referred it back to the university.

Assistant Dean of Students Veda Hunn said in order to take part in the Diversion Program, a student must plead guilty to the charges filed against them.

Once enrolled in the program, the police record is dropped and the Dean of Students' Office determines if a penalty is necessary.

The investigation began last week after a temporary CatCard Office employee reported that a group of UA football players took about 20 $1 bills from his hand while he was demonstrating how to use a cash-to-card machine in the Memorial Student Union.

Police interviewed 14 athletes during the past week.

NCAA rules do not call for the players to be suspended if they are involved in criminal activity. If a player is charged with a criminal offense, the NCAA allows individual universities to take disciplinary action.

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