Drug-possession charges against University of Maryland tailback George Scott have been reduced from felonies to misdemeanors because of "insufficient evidence," according to sources in the Prince George's County state's attorney's office.
Scott was arrested June 14 and charged with possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine and maintenance of a common nuisance for allegedly using his room to distribute the marijuana.
Had he been convicted of felony charges, Scott could have faced up to 20 years in prison. With the felony charges dropped, the maximum penalty he could receive would be two years, although it is likely that as a first offender he could receive a suspended sentence or probation if convicted.
The state's attorney's office reduced the charges late last week and the trial date was set for Aug. 21. Scott has pleaded innocent to all charges.
"The quantities of drugs confiscated were not as large as indicated in the original arrest report," state's attorney spokesman Ron Cooper said. "Therefore, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute on the felony level."
Other sources in the state's attorney's office indicated that University of Maryland police, who obtained a warrant to search Scott's room after receiving a phone call from a girlfriend of Scott, exaggerated the amount of drugs confiscated in their arrest report.
Football Coach Jerry Claiborne said last week that he intended to take no action until after Scott's case comes to trial. Then, he said, he would decide whether he should discipline Scott.
Claiborne, who is running a football camp this week, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But Athletic Director Carl James said the change in the charges would not substantially change the situation.
"Of course we're encouraged that the felony charges have been dropped," James said. "But we are still concerned about the situation."
Scott is attending summer school. James said he had been told yesterday that Scott "did well" during the first session of summer classes.