Probation ordered for party promoter

Nov. 20, 2013 @ 09:32 PM

Durham party promoter Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a central figure in the eligibility issues surrounding North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston, said that he has not spoken to the NCAA or to UNC, and that he has no ties to any sports agents.

Thomas spoke at the Durham County Courthouse on Wednesday after he pled guilty to drug and weapons charges and was given three years of supervised probation.

Hairston, UNC’s leading scorer last season, was stopped for speeding in May and was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana at a traffic checkpoint in June, a case that was later dismissed. In both instances, he drove rental cars that were rented by either Thomas or a woman who shares his address.

It would be considered an NCAA violation if Hairston got the vehicles because of his status as an athlete. Hairston’s penalties would increase exponentially if he accepted benefits from an agent.

Hairston, a junior, and teammate Leslie McDonald have missed UNC's first three games this season as the university and the NCAA work to resolve eligibility issues surrounding both players, according to a team spokesman. The Tar Heels have struggled without their two best shooters and lost a non-conference home game to an unranked opponent Sunday for the first time in 11 years under coach Roy Williams.

Thomas has been tied to four cars that have been ticketed multiple times on UNC's campus this year, and records indicate that he spent more than $15,000 on rentals at the Hertz in Raleigh-Durham International Airport over a recent five-month period.

Thomas, who also serves as an office manager at a dental practice, faced 17 to 30 months on possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and 6 to 17 months on possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia stemming from a December arrest.

His sentence was suspended and he was ordered to do 100 hours of community service over the next 12 months. A charge of maintaining a dwelling to distribute was dismissed.

Thomas had been convicted in Durham in 2006 for accessing computers to defraud, a felony, and using and possessing drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. In 2002, Thomas was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and possession of stolen goods, both misdemeanors. He has served no prison time, according to N.C. Department of Correction records.

Superior Court judge Carl Fox said that Thomas has shown an affinity for guns and hoped this case would serve as a wake-up call.

“Quit while you’re ahead,” Fox said.