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Police clear Evessa star Washington in drug case

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

After 18 days in Osaka Prefectural Police custody, bj-league star Lynn Washington was released on Friday, and authorities said they will not prosecute him on drug charges.

The Osaka Evessa, Washington’s team since the bj-league’s inception in 2005, issued a statement on Friday saying Osaka Prefectural Police informed the club by telephone of the veteran forward’s release, but did not say exactly when that would happen. But Washington confirmed his release in an evening interview with The Japan Times on Friday. He also said he’s returned to his Osaka home.

The 33-year-old Washington, widely recognized as the best player in league history, was arrested on March 13 in Osaka for his alleged involvement in smuggling marijuana (about 1 kg, according to published reports) into Japan last November. A package addressed to his wife, Dana, was allegedly shipped to Japan from the United States, a Cannabis Control Law violation.

Dana Washington was arrested in February. Evessa spokesman Makoto Yamada told The Japan Times on Friday that due to privacy issues, the Evessa have not had contact with Dana Washington and didn’t know where she was at press time.

The Evessa, sitting in second place in the Western Conference standings behind the archrival Ryukyu Golden Kings, are currently in Kyushu to face the host Miyazaki Shining Suns this weekend, but Washington is not available to play, Osaka coach Ryan Blackwell confirmed.

It remains unclear at this point if the Evessa would sever ties with Washington despite Osaka police’s decision to drop charges — alleged intent to distribute marijuana.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Yamada said, stressing that the team’s front office has to discuss Washington’s status in the coming days.

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In other league news, the host Chiba Jets defeated the Iwate Big Bulls 83-82 on Friday night.

Jamel Staten scored 26 points and Maurice Hargrow had 20 as Chiba improved to 16-27. Kensuke Tanaka added 13 points and Shota Isshiki had 11.

Shawn Malloy led Iwate (13-32) with 20 points and 13 rebounds, Gordon Klaiber poured in 19 points, two-time All-Star Makoto Sawaguchi scored 15, Thomas Kennedy had 13 and Jamal Boykin 10.

It was the first regular-season game between the two expansion clubs.