NCAA BK

Felon whose cars were tied to UNC's Hairston receives plea deal

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP)

A felon and party promoter linked to rental cars driven by North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston received 36 months of supervised probation as part of a plea deal Wednesday.

Haydn Patrick ''Fats'' Thomas accepted the deal in a Durham County courtroom for drug and weapons charges from a December arrest. Afterward, Thomas said he hadn't spoken with NCAA officials ''at all'' nor with the school about Hairston, who is sidelined indefinitely due to eligibility concerns connected to those rental vehicles.

''I'm not an agent,'' Thomas said. ''I'm not affiliated with an agent.''

Thomas, who declined further comment, pleaded guilty to charges of possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia from his arrest at an apartment with several occupants. His attorney, John R. Griffin III, told Superior Court Judge Carl R. Fox that Thomas was coming out of the shower when the police arrived.

Thomas received a suspended sentence of 23 to 47 months in jail. He must complete 100 hours of community service within the first 12 months of his probation term as well as a drug assessment program. A fourth charge of maintaining a dwelling or vehicle to distribute was dismissed.

''Certainly we agree that this is a good resolution for him,'' Griffin said during Wednesday's hearing.

Hairston and senior guard Leslie McDonald have yet to play for No. 24 North Carolina (2-1) as the school and NCAA review eligibility concerns. The Tar Heels are coming off an 83-80 home loss to Belmont, their first nonconference home loss in eight years.

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Thomas' name or address appeared on rental records for vehicles driven by Hairston during two offseason traffic stops.

Authorities first cited Hairston for speeding in May while driving a late-model sports car rented under the name of a woman sharing Thomas' home address.

Less than a month later, Hairston was arrested in Durham along with two passengers and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession while driving an SUV rented under Thomas' name. Prosecutors dismissed that charge in July after Hairston completed a drug assessment program.

Nine days later, coach Roy Williams suspended Hairston hours after a third run-in with authorities. This time, police cited Hairston for driving 93 mph in a 65-mph zone along Interstate 85 near Salisbury.

Hairston was charged for speeding, and careless and reckless driving while driving a 2008 Acura owned by a friend, Randi Lee Furr, though he later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

Hairston was UNC's leading scorer as a sophomore, averaging 14.6 points and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. Hairston, who passed on entering the NBA draft early, and McDonald have sat on the UNC bench in suits for each of the first three games.

Tagged: North Carolina

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