Georgia players face theft charges

Updated: March 18, 2014, 11:42 AM ET
By David Ching | ESPN.com

Starting safety Tray Matthews was among four Georgia players who were arrested and charged with theft by deception Monday evening.

According to the online booking log from the Clarke County Jail, Matthews, defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, outside linebacker James DeLoach and receiver Uriah LeMay were all arrested, with each player facing multiple misdemeanor charges.

University of Georgia chief of police Jimmy Williamson said Tuesday an investigation found that three of the players received double payments for stipend checks of $71.50 issued by the Georgia athletic department.

The players deposited the paper checks through a mobile device and also cashed the checks at a convenience store, according to Williamson.

Matthews is the only member of the group who has started a game. Although plagued by injuries as a true freshman in 2013, he started six times and ranked 10th on the team with 36 tackles along with one interception.

He was arrested on three counts of theft by deception and was released Monday night after posting a $4,500 bond.

Taylor, who appeared in 10 games last season as a reserve defensive lineman and recorded nine tackles, faced two theft by deception counts and was released after posting a $3,000 bond.

DeLoach, Taylor's former teammate at Jenkins County (Ga.) High School and his roommate at Georgia, faced two theft by deception charges. He too was released posting a $3,000 bond. DeLoach has appeared in 18 games over the past two seasons and has eight tackles to his credit. He was expected to shift to defensive end when the Bulldogs open spring practice Tuesday.

LeMay, who redshirted last season, faced four counts of theft by deception and was released after posting a $6,000 bond.

Williamson said the investigation began when he was contacted "a couple weeks ago by a senior athletic administrator."

"They were showing what they thought was some fraudulent activity with some of their accounts," Williamson said.

Williamson said the investigation revealed the double payments on checks.

"These athletes just did what we see other people doing all the time, other students, employees, people finding ways to get money," Williams said.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said all players receive the stipend checks.

"It is what it is," McGarity told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Tuesday. "We're not going to get into times, amounts of checks, frequency of checks. They're legal. They receive checks periodically throughout the year."

Georgia coach Mark Richt says in a statement Tuesday the matter "will be handled in an appropriate way."

The Bulldogs' opening opponent, Clemson, announced two weeks ago that starters Corey Crawford and David Beasley and reserves Garry Peters and Shaq Anthony will be suspended for the game because of violating team rules.

Should he face a suspension, Matthews would probably be the biggest loss for the first game. Richt dismissed starting safety Josh Harvey-Clemons earlier this offseason and the Bulldogs were already short on proven performers in the secondary.

Georgia ranked 60th nationally in pass defense in 2013 at 227.4 yards per game after ranking eighth in that category with a senior-heavy lineup the year before. Rising senior Corey Moore and sophomore Quincy Mauger also started games at safety last season, and the Bulldogs will also take a look at redshirt freshman Tramel Terry -- who practiced at receiver for most of last season before shifting to the secondary during bowl practice -- this spring.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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