Durham party promoter accused of renting cars to UNC athletes enters plea

ablythe@newsobserver.com November 20, 2013 

— The party promoter accused of renting high-end cars to North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston accepted a plea agreement with Durham prosecutors on unrelated drug and weapons charges.

Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a convicted felon who was thrust into the national spotlight this summer after Hairston and two friends were arrested at a police checkpoint in Durham, received a suspended sentence Wednesday in Durham County Superior Court.

Under the plea agreement entered in court on Wednesday, Thomas will serve three years of probation, perform 100 hours of community service and undergo substance abuse assessment.

Thomas, who has a criminal record dating to 2006, was arrested in Durham last December on charges of maintaining a dwelling for selling a controlled substance and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The Wednesday plea comes two weeks after Thomas told a judge he was not guilty of the weapons and drug charges, though prosecutors had offered him a plea deal in July on three felony drug charges and one accusation of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Thomas’ attorney, Randy Griffin of Durham, raised a question this summer about whether the party promoter could get a fair trial after the arrest of Hairston.

Though the charges filed against Hairston on June 5 were dropped, rental records linked several cars to Thomas and the UNC guard.

The arrest of Hairston at the Durham checkpoint in June came a month after he was stopped for speeding while driving a Hertz rental car that, according to records, was paid for Thomas’ wife.

Hairston has missed the first three games of the UNC basketball season as a result of his arrests.

Tar Heels coach Roy Williams has yet to announce how many games the junior will miss.

Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1

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