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Another charge for McPherson

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2003

Former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson has been charged with felony grand theft, accused of bouncing five checks at two Tallahassee Publix stores last summer.

McPherson, 19, wrote the personal checks all for cash, $76 apiece, during Aug. 17-20. He had no money in his SunTrust Bank account for "quite a while before and quite a while after," which makes it appear as a "scheme to defraud," assistant state attorney Doug Hall said Thursday.

The third-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. An arrest warrant will be issued.

"As you might imagine, it is devastating to the parents to learn of an additional charge," said Grady Irvin, McPherson's St. Petersburg-based attorney. "If these allegations are true, it is becoming patently obvious that we have a troubled teenager who we trust the system will allow to get some help."

McPherson was first arrested Nov. 27 and charged with felony grand theft and misdemeanor theft when police said he took a blank check from a Tallahassee business. He had been dismissed from the team two days earlier. The check was later cashed for $3,500. The state attorney's office added two felony counts after a handwriting analysis indicated McPherson forged that check.

"As far as I can tell, there is no connection between the cases," Hall said. "None of the money that was obtained in the other case was deposited. But the $64,000 question is, where's that money?"

That unknown prompted FSU police to investigate rumors that McPherson had been gambling. Police expect to complete their probe by the end of the month or early March. McPherson has denied he gambled on professional or intercollegiate athletics.

Bank records obtained by prosecutors show McPherson bounced 32 other checks from July until early December. Hall said those were for merchandise and clothes and the stores apparently have opted to have a collection agency seek retribution and added service charges.

E. Michigan drops USF

TAMPA -- Another week, another opponent drops -- or ducks? -- South Florida.

Eastern Michigan released its schedule Wednesday and it did not include a Sept. 13 home game against USF. Last week, Baylor dropped a Sept. 20 game at USF.

"I guess coach (Jim) Leavitt and the players did such a wonderful job last year that people are shying away from us," USF athletic director Lee Roy Selmon said. "It's unfortunate. I don't know what the deal is."

Less then seven months until the start of the season, USF, 9-2 last season, is three games short of a full schedule. The Bulls are in danger of not having the allowable 12 games for the second straight season and, with only the four Conference USA home games on the schedule, also could fall short of the desired six home games against Division I-A schools.

"We've lost two I-A games in a week, but that's the way it is," Leavitt said. "I don't understand why (Baylor and EMU) dropped us. ... Lee Roy Selmon and I are working very hard on the schedule."

The EMU opening should not be difficult to fill with a I-A opponent as a handful of schools reportedly are seeking a home game. The games at Raymond James could be a problem.

"If we have to pick up a I-AA team, it'll be a I-AA team that's better than Baylor anyway," Leavitt said.

C-USA assistant commissioner Brian Teter said: "When you're a young program and you prove you can beat I-A teams, some programs get a little wary about playing you. ... Right now nobody wants to play USF."

ALABAMA: Senior receiver Antonio Carter will miss spring practice with a leg injury.

HALL OF FAME: Former FSU All-America defensive tackle Ron Simmons and ex-Miami quarterback George Mira are among 77 on the ballot for election. Former UF coach Doug Dickey, Tennessee's athletic director, is among six coaches on the ballot. The class will be announced in March.

-- Times staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

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