Attorney for 'Fats' worried about fair deal in drug case
Posted July 16, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Haydn “Fats” Thomas, the man connected to multiple rental cars driven by North Carolina basketball player PJ Hairston, had a court day Tuesday on drug charges stemming from an arrest in December.
Thomas, who has a criminal record dating to 2006, was arrested in Durham on Dec. 16 on charges of maintaining a dwelling for selling a controlled substance and possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a firearm by a convicted felon. Thomas, who was released on the day of his arrest on a $35,000 bond, was not in court Tuesday. He was represented by his attorney, Randy Griffin.
Thomas has been convicted of at least nine offenses – four of them felonies – in Durham and Wake counties over the past seven years. His offenses include drug paraphernalia possession, obtaining property by false pretense, carrying of a concealed weapon, possession of stolen goods and printing and spending false money.
His current case was continued to Aug. 19
In court Tuesday, the office of U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand expressed interest in the case. Griffin said he is worried Thomas won’t get a fair deal in his drug case because media coverage of his connection to Hairston has raised his profile.
Rand, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, including Durham and Orange counties, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina as well as the University of North Carolina School of Law and co-wrote a children’s book titled I Want to Go to UNC.
Prosecutors in the case have already offered Thomas a plea deal, although the details of the deal were not released.
Hairston, Miykael Faulcon, a basketball player at Elizabeth City State, and 23-year-old Carlos Sanford were pulled over at a license check point in Durham on June 5 in a rented silver GMC Yukon. Hairston, who was driving the rented silver Yukon, was cited with driving without a license and possession of marijuana. A 9-mm handgun and ammunition were also found at the scene but police said they do not expect to file any charges related to the firearm.
Hairston told police a man he referred to as "Fats" gave him the car to visit friends in Atlanta. Thomas has said that he lent the car to Faulcon and only considers Hairston a passing acquaintance.
On May 13, Hairston was stopped for speeding while driving a Hertz rental car that was paid for by a woman who shares the same address as Thomas.
Thomas has also been linked to UNC basketball guard Leslie McDonald who tweeted in November that “Fats” gave him a cell phone that he activated and used.
All three incidents bring up questions of improper benefits, an NCAA violation.
UNC head coach Roy Williams said in a statement Monday, “Other issues have been written about recently that are disturbing and bother me deeply. Our basketball program is based on great ideals, and these issues are embarrassing.”
“We will care about each individual but there will be serious actions taken that will fix these issues,” Williams added.