Hours after the Washington Bullets made Richie Adams their fourth-round pick in Tuesday's NBA draft, he was arrested in New York City and charged with possession of a stolen car, according to police reports.
Adams was arrested in the Bronx at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday with John Salazar, 22, of New York, when the car they were driving broke down, according to the public information office of the New York Police Department. A three-man plainclothes street crime unit that stopped to help discovered that the car had been reported stolen from a Hofstra University parking lot on Long Island that afternoon.
Adams, who was driving the car, and Salazar were held overnight and arraigned in Bronx Criminal Court yesterday afternoon on one count each of criminal possession of stolen property, a felony, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, a misdemeanor. They pleaded not guilty and were released on their own recognizance; their next court date is July 8.
Under New York court procedure, the case will be assigned to a district attorney. He can present it to a grand jury and ask for indictments, reduce the charges to misdemeanors, or drop the charges altogether.
Adams was represented by New York criminal attorney Zoltan Hankovszky. The attorney would not comment on the charges other than to maintain his client's innocence.
"When the facts come out, they'll come out in court, under the proper circumstances," he said. "He does have an explanation and it is a reasonable one. He is a very good basketball player. I personally think he should have gone higher in the draft."
Cindy Lewis, women's athletic director at Hofstra, said the car was reported stolen by Francine Kalefer, Hofstra's volleyball coach. Adams has been working out with the Long Island Knights of the U.S. Basketball League, who play at Hofstra.
Bob Ferry, general manager of the Bullets, said the team would not help Adams legally.
"It's his problem," Ferry said. "We just drafted a talent. He's not with the Bullets yet. He was a late pick who is trying out for the team and the odds of him making it are slim."
Kalefer was unavailable for comment, but Lewis said the coach would press charges. Lewis also said the keys apparently were taken from Kalefer's desk and that she had seen the car, a 1981 Datsun 280Z, being driven from the parking lot at about 3:45 p.m., but did not see the driver.
Knights General Manager Randy Feldman said Adams was put on waivers yesterday morning for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. Feldman said Adams played three games with the Knights before being placed on injured reserve with a badly bruised left wrist.
"We have no comment on the accusations against Mr. Adams," he said. But he did say the arrest did not cause the release. "It was just lousy timing," he said.
Adams, a 6-foot-9 forward, was the 81st player chosen overall. A two-time Pacific Coast Athletic Association player of the year for Nevada-Las Vegas, he averaged 15.8 points last season.