Attorney: Auburn signee cleared of charges stemming from arrest
by Ryan Black
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Feb 14, 2014 | 2413 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUBURN — Auburn football signee Kalvaraz Bessent has been cleared of all charges stemming from an arrest in Florida last weekend, according to his attorney.

Bessent was one of four passengers arrested in Nassau County, Fla., on Feb. 7 after a traffic stop. After asking the occupants to step out of the vehicle, a sheriff's deputy seized 340 grams of marijuana in four separate bags as well as a set of digital scales and a loaded handgun wrapped in a T-shirt underneath the passenger seat. All four occupants were arrested and charged with two felonies (marijuana possession of more than 20 grams and marijuana possession with intent to distribute) and a misdemeanor (possession of drug paraphernalia).

Following an investigation, attorney Travis Reinhold said Bessent was exonerated after it he was found he did nothing wrong.

"After meeting with the state yesterday and discussing the facts and circumstances of it with them, they came to the conclusion that there was no evidence to support the charges against him," Reinhold said Friday. "They have agreed to drop all charges."

When reached for comment Friday, a spokesman for the Florida State Attorney's Office for the Fourth Judicial District said the case was still ongoing, citing that investigators were "working diligently on it" and would "release something as quickly as we can."

Reinhold resolved the discrepancy easily: The paperwork didn't get finished quickly enough for the state to declare the case against Bessent was closed.

"The decision was made late this afternoon and it became absolutely official," the attorney said. "The paperwork didn't get to the clerk’s office in time, but it should be there and processed by Tuesday because of the (President's Day) holiday on Monday."

Reinhold confirmed charges were still pending against the three others — Elbert Thornton, Artez Ward and an unnamed juvenile — who were arrested along with Bessent.

"Because of that, I'm not going to discuss the evidence or the facts and circumstances specifically of the entire case," he said.

The official police report lends further insight into the arrests.

According to the report, the car, a 2007 Dodge Charger, belonged to the unnamed juvenile, who was sitting in the backseat. The car was pulled over by a Nassau County deputy on U.S. Route 1 on Feb. 7 just after 10 p.m. for exceeding the speed limit, clocked at 58 miles per hour in a posted 45 mph zone. The juvenile asked what probable cause the deputy had to search the vehicle, and the officer responded that "I had detected the odor of marijuana and that I had probable cause but still was asking for consent."

After the juvenile consented to the search, all occupants exited the vehicle.

During his search, the deputy located approximately 28.5 grams of marijuana under the driver's seat where Thornton had been. Another search of the vehicle was conducted by a second deputy, who located another 109 grams of marijuana under the same seat. Upon further inspection of the vehicle, two bags containing a combined 202.5 grams of marijuana were seized under the front passenger seat where Bessent had been. One of the bags also contained a set of digital scales as well as a pair of brass knuckles.

In addition, the handgun, which was loaded with ammunition and wrapped in a T-shirt, was found under the front passenger seat.

After being questioned about the contraband seized from the vehicle, all of the individuals denied ownership of the drugs, the scale or the gun, which resulted in their arrests.

However, the police report notes the juvenile changed his story once they arrived for booking.

"He freely stated that the firearm belonged to Mr. Thornton and that the narcotics belonged to Mr. Thornton and Mr. Ward," the report states.

After being informed that his name had been cleared, Bessent took to his personal Twitter account Friday afternoon.

"Thanks to all my AU family that stuck with me through this see you guys at Auburn War Eagle!!!" he tweeted.

His father, Timothy Bessent, was equally relieved. On his personal Facebook page, thanked people "for all of the prayers and concern to those that really mean our family well."

"(I)t's not a perfect blue print for life but a perfect God to help us with life and for that I will forever be grateful to my God, and our family and friends," the post read.

Bessent's father also indicated in the post that his son will enroll at Auburn in May.
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Attorney: Auburn signee cleared of charges stemming from arrest by Ryan Black
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