Jailed Fresno St. Hoopster Has Host Of Excuses

You see, it really isn’t Dwight O’Neil’s fault that is currently sitting in a Fresno jail and suspended from the Fresno State basketball team. After all, the cops were out to get him. Plus, it was all just a big misunderstanding, and he didn’t have the right paperwork. And he was hurt. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN’T HIS FAULT, HE SWEARS TO GOD.

Fresno State player Dwight Oneil

Speaking from jail to the FRESNO BEE, O’Neil apologized for being arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license. Sort of. Technically he apologized “for minimal mistakes that seem so big and shine a bad light on our basketball program,” which is hardly a sweeping mea culpa. (Also, it’s hard to make the Fresno State basketball program look even sleazier. Congratulations.)

Then again, it’s hard to blame O’Neil. Clearly none of this is his fault, as evidenced by the myriad of excuses he gave during the interview, including:

The cops are out to get him: He was stopped by a cop who said that O’Neil had a light out in his license plate, but O’Neil is convinced that it was because he and the three passengers in the car were black. Of course, it didn’t help that once he was pulled over, it turned out that he had an outstanding warrant for driving on a suspended license, which pretty much means you are going to jail. (To be fair, he’s been stopped eight time since 2008 - either he’s a terrible driver or something odd is going on.)

He couldn’t do community service because he was hurt: -  He had originally pleaded no contest in October 2007 to the original charge of driving with a suspended license, and entered into a plea agreement where he would spend time in an Adult Offender Work Program and pay a $1,955 fine. After he did neither, the judge finally issued a warrant for his arrest this past November (a year after the original plea).

But O’Neil has a good reason why he didn’t do the work program: he broke his wrist in November 2007 and “couldn’t perform duties such as highway trash pickup.” Which I guess means you don’t need to, you know, let the judge know about it so you can make other arrangements. And apparently it also keeps you from paying your court-ordered fine, since that’s the wrist you use to write your checks.

He forgot to change his address:  O’Neil wrote a letter to the judge after the warrant was issued, apologizing for the misunderstanding and asking for another chance to do his work release. The judge, quite reasonably, said thanks but no thanks, and the warrant stood, and sent a letter back to O’Neil. To his grandmother’s house, where all of his court documents go.

Except that O’Neil doesn’t live there anymore, and he forgot to file a change of address with the court. And apparently his grandmother doesn’t know who he is, or at least is unable to forward to mail to him because…cripes, I don’t know. Listening to O’Neil’s laundry list of complaints is exhausting, like Martin Short’s lawyer character from “Saturday Night Live.”

But at least O’Neil isn’t a bad person. Just ask him:

“I’m not a bad person. I’m not the greatest person at keeping all my things in line. I apologize to the whole community for them to have to turn on the news or open the paper and see my face for something like this. I have to deal with it.”

And oh yeah, it was O’Neil’s birthday on Friday. So, happy belated birthday, I guess - maybe someone could bake a file into your birthday cake?