Report: Investigation into nine suspended Florida players nearing its end

By Adam Silverstein
September 19, 2017
Report: Investigation into nine suspended Florida players nearing its end

Image Credit: ESPNI

The Florida Gators remain without nine players — starting juniors wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett among them – serving indefinite suspensions for alleged fraud that occurred at a university bookstore.

While head coach Jim McElwain and the University of Florida have refused to provide updates on the situation at hand, state attorney Bill Cervone told ESPN‘s Mark Schlabach that he expects the joint investigation into the players — by the Gainesville Police Department and University Police Department — to wrap up by early next week at the latest. At that time, the State Attorney’s Office will review the case and determine (a) whether to press charges, (b) the severity of the charges and (c) whom will be charged.

Sources confirmed to at the time of the suspensions that the players are being investigated for making purchases using university-issued cards and then claiming those cards were stolen. Cervone told ESPN he sees the situation as “garden-variety credit card fraud” that is not “exceptional … other than maybe the people involved.”

Citing the GPD’s public information officer, ESPN also confirmed that freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith, who is believed to be one of the primary parties in the aforementioned case, is also being investigated in a “separate credit card fraud case.”

Once the players are charged, UF and the University Athletic Association will be able to act in terms of more specific player discipline.

The most serious potential charges would likely be third-degree felony grand theft, for which players would likely remain indefinitely suspended unless they entered a pretrial diversion. A common PTD would work to ensure players without criminal records do not ultimately face these charges as they would be diverted into community service and programs that prevent future criminal acts. One could see players in PTD potentially having their suspensions lifted with punishment being time served.

However, players with prior records — Callaway of note — may not be offered PTD, which would severely limit Florida’s ability to reinstate them this season … or possibly at all.

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