By RICK CALLAHAN
Associated Press Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A longtime friend of Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph faces drug charges after Indianapolis police said they found him driving the NBA star's sport utility vehicle with a cooler containing marijuana.
Arthur Boyd, 32, was arrested after police investigated an informant's tip that Randolph was involved with Indianapolis-area drug dealers, according to court documents. Boyd has pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing and dealing marijuana.
Randolph, who was not in the vehicle, has not been arrested and "adamantly denies" any involvement with drug activity, his attorney, John Tompkins, said Thursday. Tompkins dismissed the allegations, saying informants are "notorious liars."
The Grizzlies said in a statement Thursday that the organization was backing its All-Star forward for now, and that he has embraced hard work and leadership while in Memphis, Tenn.
"Unless some other information surfaces, Zach remains a valued member of the Grizzlies family and Memphis community," general manager Chris Wallace said.
A probable cause affidavit filed in Marion County Superior Court said Randolph was a "financier" for known drug dealers and supplied individuals with marijuana, vehicles and a suburban Indianapolis home where they could live.
Investigators consider the informant credible and "reliable," according to the affidavit, but Indianapolis police said Randolph is not currently the target of an active investigation.
"The investigation has basically been associated with Arthur Boyd and it just so happens that Boyd has access to his (Randolph's) vehicles," said Lt. Jeff Duhamell.
Randolph said the reports were inaccurate, and thanked his family and the Grizzlies for their support.
"I have been very intentional in distancing myself from anything that would jeopardize my personal and professional relationships," Randolph said. "It is so unsettling to work so hard at rebuilding the trust of the Grizzlies organization, my teammates and my family only to have my image tarnished by someone else's questionable behavior."
Police have impounded four cars owned by Randolph, including the one Boyd was driving before his May 11 arrest and three others that officers found in Randolph's rented storage lockers while executing a search warrant.
Possible drug residue was found in one vehicle and is being analyzed, Duhamell said.
Boyd was pulled over by police for a traffic infraction in Randolph's 2008 Cadillac Escalade as officers followed him from an Indianapolis home, which the informant said was a marijuana distribution point, investigators said.
Inside the SUV, officers found 90 grams of marijuana divided into bags in a cooler on the floor behind the driver's seat, an empty suitcase that smelled of marijuana and ammunition in a hidden compartment, the affidavit said.
A judge entered a not guilty plea on Boyd's behalf during an initial hearing, and Boyd was released on $5,000 bond after a hearing May 19, said attorney David Hooper.
Tompkins, Randolph's attorney, said Boyd has been friends with Randolph for several years and runs errands for him. Boyd also takes care of the basketball star's suburban Indianapolis home during the NBA season, Tompkins said.
Randolph is from the city of Marion, northeast of Indianapolis.
Randolph spent the first six seasons of his eight-year NBA career in Portland. He later played for the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, who traded him to Memphis in July. The move to Memphis revitalized his career. Randolph played in 81 games and had his best game with 31 points and 25 rebounds against the Knicks on Feb. 27.
He was questioned but not charged in an August 2004 nightclub shooting that left three people wounded in Indiana. His brother, Roger, was sentenced to three years in prison in a plea deal.
Randolph's past troubles also have included an arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicants after a police officer said he smelled marijuana in Randolph's car and a practice fight in which he broke former teammate Ruben Patterson's eye socket.
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