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Prosecutors won't file pot charge against Pacers' Williams

Thursday, September 13, 2007

By CLIFF BRUNT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Prosecutors on Thursday decided not to file marijuana possession charges against Pacers forward Shawne Williams following his arrest this week, but the team still suspended him for three games for poor judgment.

The Marion County prosecutor's office said police found marijuana in the sport utility vehicle Williams was driving, but felt it couldn't prove the pot belonged to him.

"Nobody technically had possession, and a passenger claimed it as his," spokesman Matthew Symons of the prosecutor's office said. "It would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he (Williams) had the marijuana."

Williams was formally charged Thursday with a misdemeanor count of driving without ever having received a license.

Meanwhile, the Pacers announced Thursday that Williams would be suspended for the Pacers' opening games of the regular season against Washington, Miami and Memphis.

Williams' arrest on Tuesday was the third time in less than a year that Pacers players have landed in legal trouble for their off-court actions.

"We are making it clear to our players and our fans that this franchise is going in a different direction," Pacers president Larry Bird said in a statement Thursday. "Shawne put himself in a position that placed the franchise in a poor light. He's a good kid who made a bad decision."

Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh was more direct.

"We're not going to put up with any of this," he said.

Williams' agent, Happy Walters, had no comment. He said Williams would release a statement on Friday.

Walsh said the Pacers have been in contact with Williams since Tuesday.

"He's been very contrite about it," Walsh said.

An initial hearing for Williams is scheduled for Friday in Marion Superior Court.

Williams was pulled over for changing lanes without signaling early Tuesday. Both Williams and the front seat passenger were initially arrested on preliminary charges of marijuana possession.

The 6-foot-9 Williams averaged 3.9 points and 1.8 rebounds in 46 games last season for the Pacers.

The recent run of legal troubles for the Pacers started last Oct. 6 when Stephen Jackson and some teammates got into a fight with others at an Indianapolis strip club while out for the night during training camp.

Jackson, whom the Pacers traded to the Golden State Warriors in January, pleaded guilty in June to a felony charge for firing a gun into the air and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service. He also has been suspended by the NBA for the first seven games of next season.

Pacers players Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels face pending charges stemming from a fight at an Indianapolis nightclub in February. Tinsley faces the most serious charge -- a felony count of intimidation.

Walsh said the Pacers had planned to talk with the players about off-court behavior, but that usually happens during a team meeting the first day of training camp. The Pacers open camp on Oct. 2.



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