Florida St.’s Winston suspended from baseball team for shoplifting

  • By Brendan Sonnone Orlando Sentinel (MCT)
  • Wednesday, April 30, 2014 4:44pm
  • SportsSports

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State star dual-sport athlete Jameis Winston was tripped up by off-the-field issues again Wednesday.

Winston was suspended from the FSU baseball team after the Heisman Trophy winner was cited Tuesday night for shoplifting crab legs from a Publix grocery store

Leon County Sheriff’s Office representatives said during a press conference they were dispatched to a Publix grocery store after a person left without paying for $32.72 worth of crab legs. The food may have also included crawfish.

The person was identified as Winston. A deputy went to Winston’s residence and reported Winston was cooperative, confirming he left Publix without paying for the food.

Winston told the sheriff’s office that he had “forgotten” to pay, according to Leon County Sheriff’s Office Major Mike Wood.

“When he got home, he realized that he had not paid, but in fact had made no effort to contact Publix or return to pay,” Wood said.

Winston released a statement Wednesday acknowledging he made a mistake.

“I realize that I am in the public spotlight and my conduct needs to be above reproach,” Winston said in the statement. “Over the last year, I’ve learned that my accomplishments on the fields can be a wonderful thing for my school, teammates, friends and family. At the same time, I must realize that my mistakes are magnified and can bring great embarrassment to all those who support me every day. I make no excuses for my actions and will learn and grow from this unfortunate situation.”

A Publix staff member and Winston agreed to a citation rather an arrest. Wood stressed that Winston was not arrested and instead cited, calling it a “pre-arrest diversion.”

Winston will have to serve 20 hours of community service. Winston might face additional sanctions, such as paying restitution. Wood said that Winston must set up his community service within seven days or the case could be reverted back to the state attorney’s office, where the incident could become a criminal case.

Winston could opt out of the civil citation program but would then likely be charged with petit theft.

“There is no indication that, that is the case,” Wood said. “He has indicated that he has every intention of fulfilling his obligation, his community service hours, and most likely, his restitution.”

FSU baseball coach Mike Martin said Sunday that Winston was taking on a bigger role with the baseball team following the end of spring football. Three days later, Martin scratched Winston from the lineup.

“As a result of his citation last night, we are suspending Jameis Winston from the baseball team,” Martin said in a statement released by FSU on Wednesday. “I am confident he will complete his community service obligation and the situation will be resolved soon.”

FSU’s code of conduct doesn’t require suspension following a citation, leaving the decision up to the head coach.

“I fully support Coach Martin’s decision and will also make sure that Jameis meets all obligations, which I know he will,” FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher said in a school statement.

Winston’s latest legal trouble was first reported by Tomahawknation.com, which initially reported that Winston had been arrested. Wood stressed that Winston was not detained.

Last year, Winston was the subject of a high-profile rape investigation. A former FSU student accused Winston of sexually assaulting her, while Winston and his attorney asserted their interaction was consensual. After admonishing Tallahassee police for its delayed investigation that hampered the collection of key interviews and evidence, the state attorney’s office opted not to press charges against Winston.

The Associated Press also reported Winston was among a group of players questioned about their involvement in a BB gun battle and Tallahassee Burger King employees complained Winston was among players stealing soft drinks and making a mess in the store.

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