Vernon Can Return to Titan Basketball

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Greg Vernon was reinstated to the Cal State Fullerton basketball team Wednesday after felony charges from a February arrest were reduced to misdemeanors by a Municipal Court judge in Fullerton.

Vernon, 19, pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor counts of auto theft, possession of stolen property and unlawful credit card use, and was sentenced to three years of probation and 400 hours of community service, according to Craig Cazares, deputy district attorney.

Vernon will have to report regularly to a probation officer, and if he violates any terms of his probation, he must serve six months in Orange County Jail.

Vernon, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, was arrested with former teammate Michael Bloodworth and Fullerton College student Gene Davis Feb. 27 in connection with the theft of a student's car and the use of stolen credit cards.

He originally faced felony charges, but those were reduced after a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Vernon was suspended indefinitely from the basketball program by the athletic department March 1 and missed the Titans' final two games last season.

Coach John Sneed sought approval from the athletic department to reinstate Vernon, and that permission was granted Wednesday by Athletic Director Bill Shumard.

"Any offense like that should not be taken lightly, but when it was reduced to misdemeanor charges, that had some effect (on our decision)," Shumard said. "The young man definitely seems to have learned his lesson from this. He had a good personal record prior to this, and this seemed to be out of character for him. So (lifting the suspension) seemed to be the logical thing to do."

Vernon, who attended University High School in Los Angeles, appeared in 21 games last season, two as a starter, and averaged 2.1 points.

"We're glad to get the ordeal behind us," Sneed said. "I know Greg and the type of person he is, and I've always supported him in this incident. He feels extreme remorse."

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