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College football

McPherson attorney raps prosecutors, police, FSU

He says some athletic officials could be ousted and he has heard Coach Bowden will be gone.

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published May 2, 2003

When attorney Grady Irvin said he would vigorously fight the misdemeanor gambling charge against his client, former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson, he wasn't kidding.

He fired at prosecutors Tuesday, saying they have "no concrete evidence" to prove their case. As for the voluminous police report, he said: "They're throwing (it) against a wall and they're hoping some of it sticks."

The state has 48 potential witnesses, including Melvin Capers and Otis Livingston, who went to Bradenton Southeast High with McPherson and have told police the three bet via the Internet last fall. The trial will begin in early June.

Irvin saved his harshest words for FSU.

He said some athletic department officials could lose their jobs for the way the McPherson case was handled, saying they had "some knowledge or some speculation" that a student manager had been betting or taking bets and failed to "excise that cancer."

Irvin also said he has heard that coach Bobby Bowden will retire after the 2003 season, telling the Orlando Sentinel that Bowden "really dropped the ball." School officials denied Irvin's claim that Bowden will be calling it quits any time soon. Bowden recently signed a contract extension that runs through the 2007 season.

Irvin said FSU athletes routinely exchanged autographed sports memorabilia for cash at R&R Truck and Auto Accessories, the store from which police and prosecutors say McPherson stole a blank check, filled it out for $3,500, forged owner Dale Acosta's signature and then asked Capers to cash it. Irvin would not reveal his source.

"If he has any information (of booster payoffs), we'd like to see it so we can investigate it," Browning Brooks, speaking on behalf of FSU, said.

According to Capers' statement to police after his arrest in that case, which touched off a maelstrom that soon engulfed McPherson and has jeopardized his collegiate career, McPherson told him the check came from a booster.

When he turned himself into the Leon County jail on Nov. 27, McPherson signed a sworn affidavit that he informed his coaches that "I did not not endorse the check, I did not write out the check." A handwriting analysis contradicted those claims.

Acosta repeatedly has denied any wrongdoing. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The rumor of booster payoffs persists, perhaps because of the corporate structure of R&R. Brian and Regan Hobbs, whose father Ron is a prominent member of Seminole Boosters, Inc., are listed as officers (vice president and secretary) for the store.

During the three-month gambling investigation, police obtained "investigative records from a confidential source of information pertaining to Ronald H. Hobbs, subject of this investigation," according to their report.

The elder Hobbs, in an interview recently with the Times, seemed surprised and disturbed that his name appeared, however briefly, in the document.

"I haven't been contacted (by law enforcement)," he said, emphasizing his only connection to R&R is that his sons are investors in the business.

"We didn't need to talk to him," said FSU chief of police Carey Drayton, who directed the probe that involved his office, Tallahassee police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "We dismissed it as one of those crazy rumors we were unable to substantiate."

Irvin said FSU is not in the clear.

Police criticized the athletic department for conducting a "limited" investigation last summer into rumors of McPherson's gambling. And although the gambling task force completed its work in March, FDLE continues to cull through a large number of telephone numbers discovered on the seized computer of former FSU student Derek Delach, who was charged with felony bookmaking. Delach has a plea hearing on May. 7. His Tallahassee-based attorney, Thomas Powell, could not be reached for comment.

Bill Saum, the NCAA's director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities, said he is aware of no school embroiled in a gambling issue that has shown a lack of institutional control. That's the threshold the NCAA uses to determine if sanctions are deserved.

[Last modified May 2, 2003, 04:01:28]


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