Georgia could start spring practices Tuesday without four players -- including safety Trey Matthews -- after they were arrested and charged with multiple counts of theft by deception, according to the Athens-Clarke-County jail log and reports by Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph.
Three of the players were arrested for allegedly taking UGA stipend checks, depositing them via a mobile app, then cashing them somewhere else. A fourth player is charged with cashing his roommate's previously deposited stipend check.
The UGA athletics department detected the checks clearing twice and contacted the UGA chief of police, Jimmy Williamson said.
Matthews, who is set to compete for the starting free safety spot after starting six games as a freshman last year, was charged with three counts of theft by deception. Receiver Uriah LeMay was charged with four counts of theft by deception. Defensive lineman John Taylor and defensive end James DeLoach were charged with two counts. Matthews, Taylor and DeLoach are accused of double-dipping their own checks. LeMay is charged with using his roommates' checks in the scam.
From Emerson's story:
"Mayes, DeLoach and Taylor would basically take that check and deposit it through a mobile banking ap. And then within a short period of time would go to a local convenience store and cash the checks. So they basically would cash the check twice," Williamson said.
UGA's finance departments discovered the situation, noticing the checks were posting twice. Williamson spoke to two associate athletics directors about the matter. Besides having to report the matter because it's a fraud, UGA was concerned with running into an NCAA compliance issue because players were receiving extra benefits.
"They have to account for these types of things for audits. And they also have to be able to show that they aren't outside compliance, that this was done through a fraudulent means," Williamson said.
All four players were interviewed by police during the investigation.
"It didn't take long to look into it. A few days," Williamson said.
The players turned themselves in Monday night and were released on bond.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt released a statement Tuesday morning:
"I'm aware of the situation and it will be handled in an appropriate way."