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Monday, October 13, 2008
Judge allows Jones to enter treatment program after drug arrest

Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- With a smattering of applause, a judge Monday accepted Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Matt Jones into a drug treatment program that could erase a felony cocaine charge against the former Arkansas star.

The former Razorbacks quarterback must participate in NFL-sponsored substance-abuse counseling and random drug testing through the end of the football season before returning to Fayetteville to complete the intervention program, Judge Mary Ann Gunn said.

Jones could still face suspension by the NFL under its policies. The league said in a brief statement that Jones' case was being reviewed and it had no timetable for when its investigation would be complete.

Gunn, who presides over the Washington County Drug Court, said Jones could be bounced from the program if he fails a drug test or misses a counseling session. Jones said in court that he was "very committed" to completing the program and said he had passed random NFL-administered drug tests since his July 10 arrest.

The quarterback-turned-wide receiver stood with his parents in Gunn's courtroom, which was filled with drug offenders and treatment program graduates. He said he wanted to enter Gunn's program because "I want to make sure it doesn't happen again."

"Then, let's welcome Matt Jones," Gunn said, drawing applause from the courtroom.

Prior to Jones' case coming up, the player watched several other hearings that featured applause. In one case, the crowd cheered a formerly methamphetamine-addicted mother who graduated from the program and had her photo taken with her son and the judge.

Typically, the program includes a nine- to 12-month intervention program that includes group therapy and 30 hours of community service.

The 25-year-old Jones made no comment after the hearing. Gunn ordered him to remain in the courtroom for a while to observe as part of his initiation into treatment.

Jones was arrested and charged with one count of cocaine possession on July 10, when a Fayetteville police officer saw him inside a parked car allegedly cutting up cocaine with a Foot Locker credit card. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Jones pleaded not guilty to the charge and had been scheduled to face trial last Friday, but prosecutor John Threet's office reached an agreement with Jones' attorney early last week to send the case to drug court.

Jones, a first-round draft pick by the Jaguars in 2005, has been free on bond since his arrest. He played Sunday in the Jaguars' victory over the Denver Broncos, catching seven passes for 69 yards.