by: Chip Towers Updated:Athens —
Four University of Georgia football players were arrested Monday night and charged with misdemeanor theft by deception.
According to University of Georgia Police, three of the players were depositing their regularly-scheduled stipend checks on their mobile phone banking apps, then taking them to a local convenience story for cashing immediately afterward, effectively cashing the checks twice. One other player, wide receiver Uriah LeMay, was retrieving a roommate’s already-cashed check and and cashing it at a convenience store.
LeMay was charged with four counts of theft by deception. His bond was set at $6,000, jail records show. Tray Matthews, a safety, was charged with three counts of theft by deception. His bond was set at $4,500. Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach, defensive linemen, were each charged with two counts of theft by deception. Bonds for both Taylor and DeLoach were set at $3,000.
Taylor was the first of the four booked into jail Monday at 8:41 p.m., booking records show. By 9:22 p.m., the remaining three were also in jail. All four were released before 11 p.m. Within two hours, all four players were released on bond, booking records show.
The fraudulent practices were brought to the attention of the police by the UGA Athletic Association, which discovered the fraud through its routine accounting practices.
“Their financial division noticed that these checks were being processed twice,” UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said Tuesday morning. “I got contacted by a senior administrator from the athletic association about the matter to file an official report and investigate. It’s a fraud and they get audited and they have to guard against fraud. Number two there is a compliance issue because these players are basically being compensated.”
Williamson said the amount of the checks was $71.50 each, bringing the total amount of the fraud to $786.50. Such crimes are punishable by up to 18 months in a county jail.
“I’m aware of the situation and it will be handled in an appropriate way,” head football coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school.
According to “Comprehensive Action Plan” in UGA’s Student-Athlete handbook, “the Head Coach is responsible for imposing whatever discipline measures he/she deems appropriate.” No disciplinary action for the players has been announced by the athletic association as of Tuesday morning.
— Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this report.