Arkansas' Beard avoids trial, to return next month
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas guard Anton Beard has entered a pre-trial diversion program in an attempt to avoid prosecution following his summer arrest on forgery charges. He will return to the Razorbacks next month following a semester-long suspension.
Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett said Monday that Beard's case has been transferred to the county's drug treatment and diversion court, which is not limited to those who have committed drug offenses.
Beard, who was arrested in July after Fayetteville police said he was seen using and exchanging counterfeit $20 and $50 bills, could be in the program for nine months to a year. Durrett said if Beard successfully completes the program, including drug tests and meeting with court officials, the charges would be dismissed.
However, the charges could still be pursued if Beard doesn't meet the conditions handed down on him by the court.
''The charges are pending now,'' Durrett said. ''The case is just being continued, and if he completes it, they will be dismissed. But if not, then it will be as if drug court didn't happen and he'll be facing the full charges.''
Beard was an All-Southeastern Conference freshman last season, averaging 5.7 points and a steal per game for a team that won 27 games and was runner-up in the SEC.
The 6-foot-1 guard was arrested in July along with teammates Jacorey Williams and Dustin Thomas after police said all three were seen on surveillance video using counterfeit bills at three locations near campus. Williams was later dismissed from the basketball program, while Thomas' case is still pending.
Coach Mike Anderson said last month Beard - who was suspended following his arrest - was still enrolled in school and hopeful of returning to the team. He'll now be eligible to return following the conclusion of the school's fall semester on Dec. 18.
''We have taken this matter extremely seriously within our program,'' Anderson said. ''Now that the matter has been resolved, we look forward to having Anton rejoin our program for practices and team-related activities.''