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McPherson charged

Former Florida State quarterback arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges for his role in the theft, forgery and cashing of a check.

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 28, 2002


photo
[AP photo]
Attorneys Benjamin Crump, left, and Daryl Parks, right, escort former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson after he posted bail.
TALLAHASSEE -- Police arrested former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson on Wednesday afternoon, charging him with a felony and a misdemeanor for his involvement in the theft, forgery and cashing of a $3,500 check from a local business.

McPherson, police said, kept all but $30, resulting in the felony grand theft charge, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Although Tallahassee Police investigators expected McPherson, 19, to arrive at their office by late morning for questioning, he instead went straight to the Leon County jail, provided a sworn affidavit and was booked. He was released less than an hour later after posting $1,500 bail and returned to his home in Bradenton for the holiday.

"He's very happy he's going home for Thanksgiving," said his attorney, Grady Irvin. "He and his family are happy to move past this phase and move onto the next."

The court phase will center on the stories of McPherson, who told his version in his notarized affidavit and during his news conference Tuesday in St. Petersburg, and Melvin Capers Jr., whom officers arrested in connection with the case Monday.

Capers, 20, a longtime friend and former Bradenton Southeast teammate, told police that on Nov. 18, McPherson called him and said he had received a check from an FSU booster and, to keep his name out of any records, needed Capers to cash it.

The check from Dale Acosta, the owner of R&R Truck Accessories, already was made out to Capers for the amount of $3,500, Capers told police.

"No. I'm absolutely not (a booster)," Acosta told the Times on Wednesday night. "What he told his friend enabled him to cash the check."

Acosta, an avid FSU fan, reported a blank check stolen Nov. 18. He told police then that McPherson, a customer and a "good acquaintance," had been in his office alone that day and had the opportunity to take it. McPherson was looking for tires in a wheelbook, and Acosta kept his checkbook in a desk drawer.

"An hour and a half after Adrian left the store, the check was cashed," Acosta said. "Adrian stole the check. I do not know a Melvin Capers. How would he know my name to forge the check? Adrian just made up a good story."

Capers told police that he cashed the check at a drive-through at the Capital City Bank and that McPherson came by his home and picked up the money. McPherson, however, has been adamant that he didn't forge the check, cash it or keep any money.

According to his affidavit, he told coaches Nov. 22 that he left R&R with a blank check. He said the last time he saw the check was in a wastebasket inside Capers' apartment.

"Coach (Bobby) Bowden and the other coaches were informed that I did not cash the check, that I did not endorse the check, that I did not write out the check and that I did not know the check had been presented to a bank for payment ... " McPherson wrote. "Coach Bowden and the coaches were informed that once I was told a check had been cashed, I made numerous attempts to contact Melvin Capers to tell him that if he had cashed the check that he should return the money. I did not receive any money from the check."

But Capers told police that McPherson kept all but $30; Capers was given enough to "get something to eat."

Capers said McPherson called him later Nov. 18 and told him that the police were investigating and that he was going to concoct a story so he wouldn't get into trouble.

"I'll take a look into those allegations once a formal charge is filed by the state attorney's office, if formal charges are filed," Irvin said.

Police arrested Capers early Monday on felony charges of larceny-theft and passing a forged check. He was released Monday on $2,000 bail.

McPherson was dismissed from the team by Bowden on Monday. If he had not been, the felony charge would have meant an indefinite suspension. He would not have been allowed to represent the school until the charge was "resolved and all court, university and athletics department conditions for reinstatement have been met," according to the FSU Athletics Code of Conduct/Discipline Policy.

Other universities have different policies that might permit their student-athletes to play with a criminal charge pending. The NCAA does not get involved in criminal cases unless there also is a violation of its rules.

Players said that Bowden told them he had dismissed McPherson for lying during a series of meetings with coaches and administrators. Bowden confirmed that Wednesday night.

"I meant that just for the players," he said. "Somehow it got out. That's fine. It is the truth. That weighed heavily in our decision. ... Every day, I found more and more out. What I knew Friday night, what I knew Sunday and what I knew Monday. Every time, it was something else."

Bowden said he never suspected other players were involved and thinks this is "strictly an isolated case." If McPherson were found guilty, the question is why he needed the money. That has fed rumors of gambling, which would be an NCAA issue with potentially serious repercussions.

Athletic director Dave Hart told the Times on Monday that the decision to dismiss McPherson had nothing to do with any NCAA issues. During McPherson's news conference Tuesday, Irvin broached the subject by saying that his client "has never ever, ever, ever gambled on any sporting event." He added that he was planning to investigate whether Hart "ever said to Adrian McPherson that he (McPherson) personally had gambled and that he had cashed a check to pay a gambling debt."

Hart responded Wednesday to that question.

"The university and the athletic department are committed to being aggressive and proactive when accusations or rumors come to our attention," he said in a statement. "To that end, I asked questions that needed to be asked. There were no accusations. Simply questions.

"It's my hope that the public and our fans realize that any specific comment made by any university official would be inappropriate at this time. While that leaves us open to conjecture and speculation, it is proper and appropriate that we continue to abide by the parameters dictated by state statutes."

-- Times researcher John Martin and Times editorial assistant Erin Wilheim contributed to this report.

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