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USF hoops players Fitzpatrick, Burwell arrested

USF basketball players Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Mike Burwell were arrested early Thursday morning, accused of leaving a Tampa restaurant without paying for their food. Both were booked on counts of obtaining food or lodging with intent to defraud, a second-degree misdemeanor. They were released separately Thursday afternoon on $250 bond each.

"At this point, we are gathering information, and if this happened, it is inappropriate behavior for our players in our program," coach Stan Heath said in a statement issued by USF. "After gathering all of the facts, we will immediately take the appropriate action."

The two are accused of leaving the Village Inn on Dale Mabry Highway without paying their $29.91 tab. Two plainclothes Tampa Police officers sitting near them saw them leave with paying for the food and pulled them over after they drove away from the restaurant, according to the arrest report.

Both players saw action as freshmen last season, and Fitzpatrick started 22 games, mostly while starting forward Augustus Gilchrist was sidelined with an ankle injury. Fitzpatrick averaged 4.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while Burwell averaged 1.2 points in limited playing time off the bench. Both are likely to come off the bench as key reserves next season.

It's believed to be the first arrest for both players -- Fitzpatrick, 20, is from Tampa's King High School, while Burwell, 19, came to USF from New Jersey. The charge is essentially the food equivalent of petit theft, applicable for any amount of "food, lodging or other accommodations" up to $300.

It's unknown how Heath will discipline the players, though precedent suggests a first offense would not result in dismissal from the team. Heath had two players -- guards Mike Mercer and Anthony Crater -- arrested on misdemeanor charges during the 2008-09 school year, and neither was dismissed after their initial arrest. Mercer was dismissed after a second arrest but allowed back on the team the next season; Crater's charges were dropped.

-- Greg Auman and Jessica Vander Velde, Times staff writers

[Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 11:24am]


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