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APS Decides Against Penalties for the School
For three La Cueva High School baseball players, the 2011 season is over.
Their legal problems may just be starting.
As expected, the three players — caught Tuesday afternoon near the La Cueva baseball field with drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana — were given mandatory 45-day suspensions Wednesday from all extracurricular activities.
Seniors Matt Smith and Kevin Ade, and junior Tanner Wade — all named in an Albuquerque Police Department report — also face criminal charges.
Smith and Ade are 18-year-old seniors. Wade, a junior, turned 16 last week.
The La Cueva baseball program in general, and the school’s athletic department as a whole, will not face further discipline from APS.
APS Superintendent Winston Brooks did consider additional penalties for La Cueva. But he cited the school’s commitment to addressing the issue of substance abuse as a reason he limited the scope of the penalty to the three players.
“This was an unfortunate incident, but it shouldn’t derail all the good work La Cueva has done to address substance abuse,” Brooks said in a statement. He was not made available for media interviews.
This the third known major substance abuse infraction at La Cueva this school year. Several volleyball players were suspended last fall, and four football players were caught drinking on a bus on Thanksgiving weekend.
Following that incident, Brooks warned about future missteps leading to possible harsh sanctions for the entire athletic department.
The incident report filed Wednesday lists two criminal offenses: possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana under one ounce/second offense. It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether the second offense of marijuana possession referred to one or all three of the players.
Among the items seized by police in a search of Smith’s SUV were one brown and black Pyrex pipe, a clear zip-top bag with a small amount of marijuana, and an orange and clear glass bong.
Both the pipe and bong had residue, according to the report.
The adult penalty for a second offense, a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to a year in jail, or a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000, or both.
As a juvenile, Wade’s case will be treated differently, said Bernalillo County Deputy District Attorney Nancy Neary, the supervisor of the juvenile crimes division. The penalty for Wade will depend on a number of variables, Neary said. Most cases in children’s court, she said, result in a plea agreement or disposition of some sort.
Smith, Ade and Wade were found in Smith’s gold 2002 Chevy Blazer a little after 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Acting on a tip that a baseball player had drug paraphernalia in his car, an APD officer and APS police Sergeant located the truck in a dirt parking lot just west of the La Cueva baseball field. According to the report, when the officers approached, Smith, the driver, and Wade jumped hurriedly out of the truck while Ade remained in the front passenger seat.
A strong odor of marijuana was detected. Smith told police that he had smoked “spice” in his truck, but not marijuana. Spice is a synthetic form of marijuana that supposedly can beat a drug test, but last month the Drug Enforcement Agency banned the five chemicals used to make spice. Previous to that, it was not an illegal substance.
Ade, a diabetic who said he got into Smith’s truck to check his blood sugar, admitted smelling marijuana but not smoking it.
Wade told police that he and Smith were smoking the marijuana residue out of the bowl of the pipe to get high.
About 3:30 p.m., the cargo area of the SUV was searched. It turned up a “glass bong that had what appeared and smelled like marijuana residue,” which was inside a blue Nike bag, the report states.
Smith, the registered owner of the truck, told police that he was holding the pipe and bong for a friend.
Wade said he did not see Ade smoke marijuana, but couldn’t be sure. Smith said Wade asked “to hit the pipe” and that both Wade and Ade smoked from the pipe, according to the report. Smith told police he did not smoke, but admitted to having the pipe in the center console of his truck.
Within the report, Smith admitted to the filing officer that he smoked marijuana at least once a day. Wade admitted to smoking marijuana once a week.
Smith, Ade and Wade were given three-day suspensions from school. Smith and Ade will be forbidden from senior activities, including Senior Day, and they will be required to meet with the school’s drug intervention counselor at least twice before senior finals. They also must complete 20 hours of community service after finals in order to graduate.
Wade and his parents must participate in a drug intervention program.
One requirement La Cueva has made is that all students, coaches and administrators complete the “Life of an Athlete” program that is sponsored by the New Mexico Activities Association. La Cueva principal Todd Resch said more than 1,100 people at La Cueva have completed the program.
La Cueva is still considering random drug testing of students as well.
As for the baseball team, the losses of Smith and Ade are certainly going to be felt, especially with La Cueva playing some of its best baseball of the season and with the state tournament two weeks away.
Ade, a first baseman who bats cleanup, was having an outstanding season for La Cueva. Smith is one of the state’s premier shortstops, and was key in the Bears’ state championship run last spring.
Wade was not on the roster for La Cueva’s varsity game last Saturday.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal