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Webber Pot Scandal Takes A Turn

Did the bag hold high-heel shoes and other "female items" -- or size 16 sneakers and marijuana in a sock? Did Chris Webber claim ownership of the bag and pay a $500 fine? If he didn't, who's the mysterious girlfriend who did?

Both the U.S. Customs Service and Webber's agent stuck to their guns Monday, telling very different tales about a small amount of pot that drew the Sacramento Kings player into yet another confrontation with the law.

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  • Customs reported Friday that Webber admitted he owned a carry-on bag found with 11 grams of marijuana in the transit lounge of San Juan's international airport and paid an administrative penalty of $500.

    On Sunday, Webber's agent, Fallasha Erwin, cried foul, saying his client "vehemently denies" he had possession of the marijuana and did not pay any fine.

    The bag was claimed by Webber's female companion, who paid the penalty, Erwin said without identifying the friend.

    "However, for unknown reasons, officials listed Chris Webber as the owner of the bag, not the traveling companion," Erwin said. In a telephone interview, he implied that the customs officers tried to tie the marijuana to Webber, making out the receipt for the fine paid by his friend in Webber's name and refusing to change it when he protested.

    He said Webber's attempts to clear his name caused him to miss his flight to Barbados. The player is on a tour sponsored by the sporting goods company Fila and had been accompanied by about a half dozen of that company's officials and Detroit Pistons player Jerry Stackhouse.

    Erwin said a Fila Representative was with Webber throughout the confrontation at the airport. Fila issued a statement Monday night saying it had askeWebber to cut short his trip to Barbados so they could review the affair.

    "We expect our athletes to conduct themselves in an exemplary manner on and off the court and we are taking this issue very serious," said Jon Epstein, president of Fila U.S.A.

    Customs officials were unmoved by Erwin's version of events.

    "We're sticking to our story. It happens to be the truth," spokesman Pat Jones said from the service's headquarters in Washington D.C.

    "One of our dogs alerted to a piece of luggage filled with men's clothes and size 16 shoes and 11 grams of marijuana hidden in a sock. Chris Webber claimed that luggage was his, and he paid his fine, and he was very cooperative," Jones said.

    Erwin said the bag contained "female items," including high-heeled shoes.

    The controversy draws attention to Webber as he awaits trial on charges of marijuana possession, second-degree assault and resisting arrest in relation to a January traffic stop on his way to practice with the Wizards in Maryland.

    In May, he was traded to the Kings.

    That same month, a grand jury found there was no evidence to prosecute him in a complaint filed by a woman who said she was sexually assaulted at a Maryland party in April. Webber's lawyer said he left the party before the alleged attack.

    Webber's new team has declined to comment because the NBA and its players are in the midst of a lockout.

    Only heroin and cocaine are covered in the drug agreement between the NBA and the union, but union director Billy Hunter said last week they were nearing agreement to add marijuana to the list of banned substances.

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