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Charges dismissed against Tar Heels' Hairston

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Authorities have dismissed charges against North Carolina basketball leading scorer P.J. Hairston from a traffic stop last month.

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Hairston was arrested June 5 and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license at a checkpoint in Durham, N.C. But prosecutors dismissed those charges Friday afternoon after Hairston produced proof he had a driver's license and had completed a drug assessment program, said Elizabeth Tapley with the Durham County clerk of court's office.

The drug assessment determines whether a person has a drug problem, Durham County district attorney Leon Stanback said Monday afternoon. In a phone interview, Stanback said it's a common way for his office to handle first-time offenders on a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

``That's a standard operation,'' Stanback said. ``I instructed my staff not to treat this case any differently than anybody else.''

He added that Hairston ``satisfied my assistants that he had taken care of what he needed to for the offense.''

Two passengers - Elizabeth City State player Miykael Faulcon and former college basketball player Carlos Sanford - were also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. Their cases are pending with an Aug. 6 court date.

Durham police also seized a 9mm handgun found outside the rental vehicle during the search, though spokeswoman Kammie Michael had said earlier this month that there were no plans to file additional charges in the case. Michael didn't respond to an email Monday asking whether authorities had linked that weapon to anyone.

That traffic stop was the second time in a month that Hairston had been cited while driving a rental vehicle linked to a convicted felon.

Hairston was cited for speeding in a 2012 Camaro on May 13 in a vehicle that was rented under a woman's name sharing the home address of Haydn Patrick ``Fats'' Thomas. Thomas' name appears on rental records for the 2013 GMC Yukon that Hairston was driving on the night of his June arrest.

Thomas faces pending drug charges as well as a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon from a December arrest.

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham has said the school is reviewing potential improper conduct by members of the men's basketball team, though he didn't name any player specifically.

Last week, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Hairston would face ``serious consequences'' after his arrest, though he hadn't yet determined a punishment. Williams said he was considering several possible punishments, including suspension, though Williams said he would wait ``until the process is complete'' to decide.

UNC senior associate athletic director for communications Steve Kirschner said there were no plans for Williams to issue a statement Monday following the dismissal of Hairston's charges.

The school has been in frequent contact with the NCAA for much of the past three years following the start of an investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct that led to sanctions against the football program in 2012. That included regarding the school's investigation into whether NBA agent Rodney Blackstock has improper ties to Hairston or any other UNC athlete.

It's unclear whether NCAA investigators will return to the Chapel Hill campus regarding Hairston. NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter didn't immediately return an email for comment Monday evening.

Hairston, a 6-foot-5 1/2 swingman, averaged about 15 points per game and decided in April to return for his junior season instead of entering the NBA draft.

AP NEWS
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