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Whitaker Convicted of Drug Charge

June 5, 2002

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) _ Former world boxing champion Pernell ``Sweetpea″ Whitaker was convicted of felony cocaine possession after a judge found he violated the terms of a previous sentence by overdosing on cocaine in March.

Whitaker faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 5.

In January, Circuit Judge Thomas S. Shadrick granted Whitaker first-offender status when he was sentenced for cocaine possession. Had Whitaker stayed out of trouble for 12 months, the cocaine charge would have been dismissed.

But on March 13, Whitaker was taken to a local hospital after ingesting cocaine. He was arrested March 28 and charged with contempt of court. Whitaker signed a letter admitting that he had used cocaine, according to testimony Tuesday.

``It has been a good day for me,″ Whitaker, 38, said after the hearing. ``It will all be over soon. The people of Virginia are tired of hearing all this negative publicity.″

The 1984 Olympic lightweight boxing gold medalist was charged with cocaine possession after he was convicted of a traffic violation Aug. 10 and sentenced to four days in jail. While Whitaker was being processed for jail, deputies found a packet of cocaine in his roll of money.

Whitaker’s attorney, I. Lionel Hancock III, said Whitaker has been in a drug rehabilitation program since he overdosed in March.

``He has stated that he has a problem,″ Hancock said. ``Now he is going to put that problem behind him.″

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