Street cred

Sports blotter: "This year's Xbox" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  July 23, 2008

080725_blotter_main

A new kinda cred
It seems like every year, it’s something new — some new boutique crime sweeps through the ranks of collegiate athletics, luring young jocks into indictment after indictment. A few years back, it was shooting people (usually geeky campus civilians with good grades) with BB guns, a crime that for some reason attracted a large number of 300-pound football linemen. Then it was getting drunk and ripping the mirrors off of parked cars — we had a year full of those cases at one point.

Arrest-prone jocks then shifted gears and ventured more into the area of enterprise crime, leaving car mirrors be for a time and moving into the world of stealing Xbox consoles. There was a rash of such arrests in 2006 and 2007, including the embarrassing pinch of Bowling Green hoopster Lionel Sullivan and a bizarre story involving defensive-back twin brothers Jack and William Ikegwuonu.

After Xbox theft, it was boosting laptops, a campus hobby that touched nearly every state in the union over the course of about 16 months, netting such luminaries as our own struggling baseball phenom Clay Buchholz and doghouse-bound New Jersey Nets point guard Marcus Williams. Even the Ol’ Ball Coach got dragged into the laptop craze: Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks were bedraggled by an elaborate and seriously ugly laptop-theft case. But quick as it came, the laptop fad fizzled.

Now we have the new new thing, and that is misuse of stolen credit and debit cards. There have been quite a number of them in 2008, including a somewhat unusual case involving Florida cornerback Jamar Hornsby, who was caught using a credit card belonging to a woman who had died in a motorcycle accident. In that case, Hornsby’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, claimed his client had a “legitimate reason” for charging more than $3000 to the dead girl’s card. (We’re still waiting to hear that reason, by the way.) Then there was the case of West Virginia’s Charles Pugh and Quinton Andrews, who police believed went on a shopping spree with credit cards stolen from a car parked near the WVU campus. Only Pugh was charged; he was kicked off the team soon after.

The trend now seems to have found its way to the Blue Chips, as Marshall (Texas) High School wideout Dameon Mark-Keith Smith was picked up this past week in connection with at least one debit-card theft. Police in Marshall — a city of 24,000 about 20 miles from the Louisiana border — had previously cautioned residents about an uptick in thefts of credit and debit cards from parked cars, warning them not to leave valuables in their vehicles. Smith’s arrest was “in some way connected to that press release,” said Marshall Police sergeant Leland Benoit.

Marshall High’s athletic director, Thedrick Harris, took the usual “we can’t comment until we get all the facts” approach with regard to Smith’s arrest, his second in three weeks (he had been popped for theft on July 3). That generally means the school is waiting to see how its passing game looks in practice before they kick their best receiver to the curb. We’ll see if he sticks, and if the highly touted wideout still gets a look from any Division-1 powerhouses. (He’s already been offered seven scholarships from Bowl Championship Series universities.) In the meantime, 42 points for Smith — 21 for each arrest.

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