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May 6, 2017

Four accused players sentenced to probation

The four members of the Massachusetts football team that were arrested earlier this season on charges of cocaine possession were sentenced to probation on Monday, with the potential of charges being dropped.

According to a report on Massline.com, the Northwestern District Attorney’s office and defense lawyers reached an agreement for the players to receive pre-trial probation, meaning that the charges were continued, and the four did not admit guilt to the charges.

Juniors James Carven, Mike Mele, Bob McLaughlin and sophomore Shane Viveiros were ordered to take part in a four-month UMass BASICS program for substance abuse as part of the agreement.

In addition to the cocaine charges, Mele and Viveiros were also charged with possession of false identification.

According to the Masslive report, if the four players avoid further trouble until their next court date on March 15, the charges will be dropped.

The four players were suspended for one game earlier this season, which is in compliance with the UMass substance abuse policy that mandates players be suspended for 10 percent of a season. They were also held out of another game as per decision by Morris. The players participated in UMass’ four most recent games, and will play in this weekend’s season finale at Hofstra.

UMass coach Kevin Morris declined to comment on the issue.

The BASICS program, which is part of University Health Services, according to the UMass website, tries to “promote an environment that supports responsible decision-making regarding alcohol and other drug use, on campus and in the community.”

According to police reports cited in the Masslive report, the four players were seen acting suspiciously behind a dumpster behind The Pub restaurant on East Pleasant Street in Amherst. The Amherst Police officer that went to investigate received inconsistent responses from the four men as to what they were doing. The officer then saw that Viveiros and Mele had false identification and found a small bag with white powder inside and charged all four with the possession of a Class B substance.

Viveiros has the most time of the four players, starting four games this season and playing in seven. On the season, the sophomore has 29 total tackles, one interception and one blocked kick.

McLaughlin, the son of recent UMass Hall of Fame inductee Joe McLaughlin, has played in six games this season, making eight total tackles.

Mele, a Syracuse transfer, saw no playing time before the suspension due to injury, but has played in two games since, starting one in place of an injured Tyler Holmes. Mele has 10 total tackles on the season and one fumble recovery.

Carven has played in eight games this season, making seven tackles, an interception and forcing a fumble in that time.

Nick O’Malley can be reached at nomalley@student.umass.edu.

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