The four University of Georgia football players that were arrested Monday night and charged with misdemeanor theft by deception were all present and accounted for during the Bulldogs’ first practice of the spring on Tuesday.
Safety Tray Matthews, receiver Uriah LeMay and defensive linemen James DeLoach and Jonathan Taylor all were dressed out in practice gear and participated in Tuesday’s 90-minute workout, the first of the 15-practice spring session. All four were booked in Athens-Clarke County Jail just 18 hours earlier.
Georgia football coach Mark Richt had only issued a statement through the school saying he was “aware of the situation” regarding the players’ arrests but has not commented on what disciplinary action he plans to take. According to the “Comprehensive Action Plan” in UGA’s Student-Athlete handbook, “the Head Coach is responsible for imposing whatever discipline measures he/she deems appropriate.”
“It will be handled in an appropriate way,” Richt said in the statement. He’s scheduled to meet with reporters Tuesday night after the Bulldogs’ practice.
According to University of Georgia Police, three of the players were depositing checks on their mobile phone banking apps they had received from the UGA Athletic Association, then taking them to a local convenience story for cashing immediately afterward, effectively cashing the checks twice. One other player, wide receiver Uriah LeMay, was retrieving a roommate’s already-processed check and cashing it at a convenience store.
LeMay was charged with four counts of theft by deception. His bond was set at $6,000, jail records show. Tray Matthews, a safety, was charged with three counts of theft by deception. His bond was set at $4,500. Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach, defensive linemen, were each charged with two counts of theft by deception. Bonds for both Taylor and DeLoach were set at $3,000.
Taylor was the first of the four booked into jail Monday at 8:41 p.m., booking records show. By 9:22 p.m., the remaining three were also in jail. All four were released before 11 p.m. The Bulldogs are conducting their first spring football practice Tuesday at 4:45
The discrepancies were brought to the attention of police by the UGA Athletic Association, which discovered the fraud through its routine accounting practices.
“Their financial division noticed that these checks were being processed twice,” UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said Tuesday morning. “I got contacted by a senior administrator from the athletic association about the matter to file an official report and investigate. They get audited and they have to show fraud and account for fraud. Two, there’s a compliance issue because these players are basically being compensated, or received extra benefits, so to speak. They need to document all this so it wouldn’t appear as though the athletic association had done it.”
Williamson said the amount of the checks was $71.50 each, bringing the total amount of the fraud to $786.50. As such, the crimes are considered misdemeanors and are punishable by up to 18 months in a county jail.
Student-athletes often receive payments from the athletic department as compensation for or reimbursement for regularly-provided services, such meals or lodging.
— Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this report.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.