James, Powell arrested for drug possession
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
Florida athletes Brandon James and Brandon Powell have been suspended indefinitely after being arrested Monday night on drug possession charges.
Powell, a 6-foot-3 guard on the UF basketball team and James, a 5-7 kick return specialist on the UF football team, face felony charges of purchase of a controlled substance and misdemeanor charges of possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
Gainesville Police arrested James and Powell as part of a reverse sting operation. According to Gainesville Police spokesman Lt. Keith Kameg, the two purchased about eight grams of marijuana for $20 from a confidential source.
"We are aware of the situation and understand the severity of its nature," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement released through UF sports information. "This is not something we take lightly. Both coaches have informed me that the players involved have been suspended indefinitely and we will continue to follow the procedures in addressing this."
The third-degree felony purchase charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000, according to State Attorney's Office spokesman Spencer Mann. The possession charges are a first-degree misdemeanor which carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail and maximum fine of $1,000.
Powell, a Memphis native, and James, of St. Augustine, were both released on their own recognizance Tuesday after spending Monday night at Alachua County Jail.
According to the GPD arrest report, Powell and James phoned a confidential source and arranged to meet at the source's house to purchase marijuana. The two arrived shortly past 9 p.m.
"There was a conversation about money for exchange and then a sale was completed," Kameg said.
The sale was recorded on video and audio. After the transaction, Gainesville Police and Alachua County detectives arrested both athletes, who dropped the marijuana as they were being arrested.
The arrests were part of an ongoing investigation by the GPD's narcotics unit. James and Powell were two of four arrested in the sting. Two others, Le Roy Johnson of Gainesville and Xavier Dion Mitchell of Gainesville, were arrested on possession charges after meeting the same confidential source two hours earlier.
Kameg said both James and Powell were non-combative and cooperative following the arrest.
Powell, who turns 20 on Saturday, averaged 1.6 points and 0.4 rebounds in limited playing time as a freshman last season.
Off the court, Powell had a few rocky moments in his first year at UF. He was kept home from a Feb. 27 game at Tennessee for academic reasons. Also, Powell was disciplined internally after videotape showed he punched a Vanderbilt fan when Vandy fans stormed the court following its upset of top-ranked Florida.
Powell's former high school coach, Jerry Johnson, was unaware of the arrest Tuesday. Johnson has served as a mentor to Powell, who faced a difficult upbringing in Memphis.
"It's a shame because I think he's made progress down there," Johnson said. "He just needs to be more careful about the people that he's with. There are people there that are always patting him on the back. He can do well, but he just needs to stay humble. I'd like to talk to him."
James, 19, averaged 11.0 yards on punt returns and 18.2 yards on kickoff returns, scoring a touchdown on a season-long 77-yard punt return against Western Carolina.
James had no prior disciplinary issues at Florida before Monday night's arrest.
The arrest of James is the third drug-related incident for the Florida football team in the past 10 months. Former Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss was suspended for the Western Carolina game last November after failing a drug test. In the same month, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas was kicked off the Florida football team after repeated failed drug tests.
Powell's arrest is the first drug-related incident for the Florida basketball program since former staff assistant Major Parker was arrested for selling half a kilogram of cocaine to an undercover officer in December 2004. Parker pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. He completed a sixth-month sentence under house arrest last August and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years of probation and more than 200 hours of community service.
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or email@example.com.
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