Arrest brings suspension, fine, probation trouble

New Portland Trail Blazers President Steve Patterson acted swiftly and authoratively Monday after learning of the latest drug-related arrest of Damon Stoudamire Ñ suspending the guard indefinitely and fining him $250,000.

The team discovered Monday morning that Stoudamire was arrested Thursday on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges at Tucson (Ariz.) International Airport. He was stopped while passing through a metal detector machine at a security checkpoint, an airport employee said.

The incident marked the third time in 18 months that the Portland native had been arrested on marijuana charges. He is on probation for a year after agreeing in March to a plea bargain on a possession charge in Lewis County, Wash.

'We're very aware this is the third incident,' Patterson said during a brief news conference Monday afternoon. 'We're not

going to tolerate this type of behavior any longer.'

Patterson, who was hired on June 18, said the suspension would last 'until the matter is satisfactorily resolved.' He said the team will be working with the NBA Players' Association to try to get Stoudamire into a rehabilitation program.

Patterson said the fine and suspension were discussed with owner Paul Allen; coach Maurice Cheeks; Stoudamire's agent, Aaron Goodwin; and the NBA. He said the fine is the largest ever given to a player.

According to the Blazers, forwards Ruben Patterson and Zach Randolph were both fined $100,000 last season involving separate incidents of assault.

According to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, Stoudamire apparently was carrying in his pocket approximately 1 1Ú2 ounces of marijuana wrapped in aluminum foil when he was stopped. When Stoudamire was asked what was in the foil, he first replied, 'You know what it is,' then said it was marijuana and that it was his, a report said.

Stoudamire was then arrested and cited on a misdemeanor drug possession charge. He was also charged with possessing drug paraphernalia Ñ rolling papers. He was released without having to post bail and was given a July 25 court date.

The arrest took place Thursday at approximately 3:30 p.m. Stoudamire and an unidentified companion were traveling to New Orleans, the sheriff's department said.

A spokesman at the Pima County, Ariz., prosecutor's office said the sheriff's office will forward the report on the case after completion of its investigation, which may take up to three weeks. The prosecutor's office will then decide how to proceed with the case.

Stoudamire has been in Tucson since May and was expecting to attend classes until late July. He told the Tribune two weeks ago that he was fulfilling a promise to his mother of earning a degree at the university in media arts and a minor in sports broadcasting

After summer classes ended in late July, he planned to head to Houston and fly back to Portland in time for the beginning of training camp in October.

Portland attorney Stephen Houze, who has represented Stoudamire on two past drug charges, said Monday morning that he had no comment on the latest arrest. Calls to Stoudamire's cell phone on Monday morning were not returned.

Interstate 5 incident

Last December, Stoudamire and co-captain Rasheed Wallace were arrested on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges after they were stopped just north of Centralia, Wash., as they were returning to Portland after playing a game in Seattle.

Stoudamire's yellow Hummer, which was being driven by an acquaintance, was stopped for speeding by a Washington State Patrol officer just before midnight Nov. 21.

The three men pleaded not guilty to the charges. But in March, Stoudamire and Wallace were placed on one year's probation as the result of a plea bargain agreement struck with Lewis County prosecutors.

As part of the agreement, Stoudamire maintained his not-guilty plea but agreed to complete a drug and alcohol abuse program, pay $150 in probation costs and $500 to the Lewis County Drug Fund.

Andrew Toynbee, chief deputy prosecutor for Lewis County, said his office must decide whether to move to have Stoudamire's probation revoked.

'The time (of his probation) stops running until it is resolved,' he said. 'The prosecutor could move to have it revoked before Stoudamire is tried in Tucson if the police reports are very detailed and persuasive that he broke the law.'

Or, Toynbee said, his office could wait until Stoudamire's case is decided. If the probation is revoked, the minimum sentence is one day in jail.

Burglar alarm alerts police

Before the Lewis County charges, Stoudamire and his father, Willie Stoudamire, were charged in Clackamas County with felony drug possession charges after a pound of marijuana was discovered in Damon Stoudamire's Lake Oswego home Feb. 23, 2002. The police searched the home after responding to a burglar alarm and found the marijuana in a crawl space.

According to police records, Stoudamire admitted the marijuana was in his house but claimed that it belonged to his father.

A Clackamas County judge ruled in August that police didn't have sufficient reason to search Stoudamire's house and threw out the evidence. Clackamas County District Attorney Greg Horner has appealed the ruling.

It's not certain how the latest arrest would affect any contract deal.

He has two years left on the seven-year, $81 million contract he signed after being traded to the Blazers by Toronto.

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