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Semi-pro basketball team may play on despite coach’s arrest

POSTED: October 25, 2012 4:14 p.m.

The Gainesville Heat semi-professional basketball team may have a future despite its coach’s arrest Wednesday.

American Basketball Association CEO Joe Newman said Thursday that the ABA will try to help the team stay together after Joshua Brian Randolph, 25, of Gainesville was charged with theft, forgery and deposit account fraud.

“Players, coaches, staff, the city, sponsors and especially fans have really been taken advantage of; it’s like Bernie Madoff,” Newman said. “The city of Gainesville has been burned, and the ABA will do whatever it can to try to alleviate this.”

He added that a number of players and coaches, including assistant coach Mike Martin, have said that they will try to continue operations for the team, which was set to begin its inaugural ABA season today in Tampa, Fla.

“There’s been a rally to support the team, and we’re working hard to move forward,” Newman said. “We are waiving any current fees due the ABA and will adjust their schedule if necessary.”

Newman added that it’s still realistic for the team to play a full schedule if it can stay together.

Newman said he suspended Randolph from the ABA as soon as he heard from the police about the charges.

Randolph was booked into the Hall County Jail on Wednesday night on charges of misdemeanor deposit account fraud, two counts of theft, forgery and two counts of felony deposit account fraud.

Some of those charges stem from an Oakwood police case, and others stem from bad check warrants taken out in court.

He was granted a total $10,600 bond on the charges but was still listed in the jail as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

On Wednesday, Randolph and his attorney, Dan Parr of Weaver Law Firm in Gainesville, maintained his innocence on charges of theft and forgery.

Oakwood police say Randolph wrote a $300 check with another man’s checkbook to purchase a team uniform, resulting in those two charges.

Chief assistant solicitor Amber Sowers said Randolph has a probable cause hearing set for Nov. 7.

According to the Gainesville Heat website, the team wrapped up its three-game preseason schedule with a win over Eastpoint on Sunday at Curtis Hall at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville. The first home game was scheduled for Nov. 3 against the South Carolina Warriors.

“The coaches, players, staff, businesses, press/media and most of all, the fans of Gainesville do not deserve what happened and should not suffer because of the actions of Joshua Randolph,” Newman wrote in an email to The Times. “His behavior is shameful. We think that Gainesville, under the right leadership, could be a great ABA city and we thank everyone there for their support.”

Metro Editor Shannon Casas contributed to this report.


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