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March 3, 2007

Garcia arrested again

Note: Stephen Garcia has been suspended from all team activities indefinitely per USC athletics department policy. In addition, Steve Spurrier issued the following statement Saturday evening: "I need to stay out of this conversation right now and let the legal system run its course. We'll make a decision after that."

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's highly touted quarterback recruit Stephen Garcia has been arrested again -- this time on a charge of malicious injury to personal property.

Garcia was arrested about noon Saturday after a visiting professor reported that Garcia had used a key to scratch the man's car parked near the university, Columbia police spokeswoman Sgt. Florence McCants said.

According to an arrest warrant, Adam Biggs told police he saw a man using a metal key to scratch the side of Biggs' car. Biggs, a Claflin professor who is teaching at South Carolina this semester, said his 2007 Toyota Corolla was parked on the side of a street near campus. Biggs confronted the man and asked his name.

According to a police report, the man identified himself as Stephen Garcia. When Biggs threatened to call police, the man offered to pay $500 for the damage to the car, according to the police report.

When police contacted Garcia, "the suspect stated to the officers he was aware of the allegation, but denied causing any damage" to Biggs' car.

In an earlier run-in with police, Garcia was arrested Feb. 17 and charged with drunkenness and failure to stop for a police officer. The 19-year-old recruit from Lutz, Fla., is not old enough to purchase alcohol. His court date was scheduled for March 7 in that case.

A telephone message left with Garcia's lawyer Neal Lourie was not immediately returned Saturday. Garcia was scheduled to be arraigned in bond court later Saturday.

Garcia, who enrolled at South Carolina in January after graduating early from high school, was suspended from the football team for four days after his earlier arrest.

South Carolina athletic department spokesman Steve Fink said Saturday he was unaware that Garcia had been arrested in the most recent case.

On Friday when news about the allegations first broke, head coach Steve Spurrier told The (Columbia) State that he believed "Stephen when he said he didn't scrape the kid's car."

"I'm going under the assumption that he's been falsely accused," Spurrier said. "He didn't even know the kid. I just don't believe he'd do that."

According to the arrest warrant, the damage to Biggs' car was estimated at more than $800.

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