Police: No charges against Michael Phelps in marijuana scandel

February 17, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Long overdue to us, the pursuit of criminal charges against Michael Phelps for photos showing him smoking a marijuana pipe have been halted. The 14-time gold medal winner had already apologized for his bad judgment, and received a USA Swimming suspension and lost his Kellogg endorsement, as part of the fallout.

A South Carolina sheriff Leon Lott decided Monday after a highly publicized investigation that he simply didn’t have enough physical evidence to charge the 14-time gold medalist.

“We had a photo and we had him saying he was sorry for his inappropriate behavior. That behavior could’ve been going to a party,” Richland County Sheriff Lott said.

“He never said, ‘I smoked marijuana.’ He never confessed that,” the sheriff said.

The sheriff, known for his tough stance on drug crimes, said ignoring the photo would have sent a message of tolerance. The sheriff said the investigation involved two narcotics officers that logged 25 hours over about a week. He said the house where the November party took place and another suburban home near Columbia had previously been investigated for drugs.

Lott said authorities seized the marijuana water pipe, known as a bong, in the photo during the investigation but couldn’t prove Phelps had smoked from it.

Holding a bong is not a crime, he said.

While the swimmer won’t face any charge, eight people were arrested during the investigation when a small amount of marijuana was found in raids on two homes. The bong was found in a car.

Seven people have been charged with simple possession of marijuana, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail or a $575 fine. Another person was arrested for driving under suspension.

One of the attorneys representing the three students arrested said the accused were all in their early 20s. Attorney Dick Harpootlian said the police kicked in the doors with guns drawn during the raids and found less than a cigarette’s worth of marijuana in the house where the party was held. The other raid netted about four or five cigarettes worth, Harpootlian said.

The lawyer expects his clients to either have the charge dismissed or for them to get a conditional discharge, which allows an offender to avoid punishment as long as they comply with certain conditions for six months and stay out of trouble.


2 Responses to “Police: No charges against Michael Phelps in marijuana scandel”

  1. Raquel on February 17th, 2009 11:40 am

    Well that is interesting!

  2. SunflowerPipes on February 17th, 2009 2:51 pm

    So Michael Phelps is a guy who drinks at parties smokes a little gambles on high stakes games of beer pong and is the all time greatest Olympic medal winner he sounds like a pretty cool guy to me. Michael Phelps is an American Hero. He stood tall and made America proud at the Beijing Olympics. This is how he is treated. Michael Phelps did a tremendous amount of work to achive what he did. Who can forget the pride we felt with the each gold medal Phelps won in China, how can we as Americans forget all of those things and hang a man for smoking a glass water pipe at a college party. It is time that we as a country stand up for the rights of the individual, it’s time we stand together with our neighbors and take collective control of our destinies. Write any congressman or a senator; imagine the weight of millions of emails calling for a change in policy. Lets stop them from arresting college kids at parties in America.

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