The four criminal charges against Pitt point guard Levance Fields stemming from a Sept. 16 incident outside a Strip District nightclub were withdrawn yesterday and reduced to one charge of simple assault.
Judge Nathan Firestone ordered Mr. Fields to be admitted to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time offenders. If Mr. Fields does not have any other brushes with the law during his nine-month probationary period, the simple assault charge will be expunged from his record.
"Essentially, Levance accepts responsibility for his actions," Mr. Fields' attorney, Robert G. Del Greco Jr., said. "He made a mistake. It addresses the commonwealth's concern for punishment, but does so in a way that he will earn his dismissal. Nothing will be given to him."
Mr. Del Greco ordered Mr. Fields not to speak with reporters after the hearing.
Considering the original charges, the fact that Mr. Fields would be placed in an ARD program was a welcome bit of news for the Pitt basketball program.
Mr. Fields, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was originally charged with aggravated assault, disarming a police officer, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. The aggravated assault and disarming a law enforcement officer charges are felonies.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Fields, 20, cursed at police Officer Michael Johns and punched him in the chest. Mr. Fields then allegedly snagged at Officer Johns' duty belt and grabbed for his weapon.
A security officer arrived to assist Officer Johns and shot a Taser into Mr. Fields' chest to subdue him. Mr. Fields was taken to Mercy Hospital and then to Allegheny County Jail. He was released on bond.
In addition to the ARD program, Mr. Fields also must complete 50 hours of community service and pay court costs, which will be approximately $750.
Mr. Fields will not be suspended for any games this season because of the incident. Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon never issued a public punishment for Mr. Fields, but he has not allowed Mr. Fields to participate in any team workouts since the incident.
"Over the last three years, I have viewed firsthand the very positive way Levance Fields has conducted himself as a person, student and athlete at the University of Pittsburgh," Mr. Dixon said in a statement issued through the Pitt sports information department. "The initial report of this incident did not reflect the young man I have come to know.
"We have let the judicial process run its course and acknowledge today's decision. Levance has been, and will continue to be, held to our team's disciplinary standards. Those disciplinary actions will remain within the confines of our program. I know he has learned valuable lessons from the experience and will be better for it."
Mr. Dixon was on the road recruiting and could not be reached for further comment.
Mr. Del Greco seemed confident that Mr. Fields would be able to begin working out with the team again, perhaps as soon as today.
"He's been in a holding pattern," Mr. Del Greco said. "Hopefully soon, he'll be able to participate in team workouts."
Mr. Fields has been Pitt's starting point guard since his freshman season and is an important member of the squad. He led the team in assists last season and averaged 9.2 points per game.
Mr. Fields was named second-team all-Big East after last season and was one of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which is given to the nation's top point guard. He is one of two returning starters for the Panthers, who advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament in March.
Ray Fittipaldo can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1230.