Basketball / BJ-League

Evessa's Washington exonerated by police in drug case

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

A few hours after his Friday release from Osaka Prefectural Police custody, Osaka Evessa power forward Lynn Washington admitted this 18-day ordeal was “a very humbling experience.”

Washington had been arrested on March 13 on suspicion of smuggling about 1 kg of marijuana into Japan, in connection with his wife, Dana, who was detained by Osaka police in February. The package was allegedly addressed to Dana Washington and sent to Japan in November.

Police said Friday they will not prosecute the basketball star, who turns 34 on April 3. All charges have been dropped.

“God bless the best criminal lawyer in Osaka. I will not be fined or deported,” Washington said.

Washington returned to his Osaka home on Friday, and then reflected on what he’s experienced.

“The past few weeks were like being in a box with only the New Testament as your guide,” Washington said in an exclusive interview with The Japan Times. “(It was a) very humbling experience. Wake up at 7, fold your bed sheets a certain way and wait until breakfast, which consisted of rice every day. I did read ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ very good book.”

As for his immediate future with the perennial title-contending Evessa, who won three championships and appeared in all six Final Fours since the team joined the bj-league in 2005, he said he will need to sit down and discuss the matter with team officials in the coming days.

Washington’s three children are now in California. He grew up in San Jose.

Dana Washington remains in Osaka Prefectural Police custody.

As for Dana’s case, Washington said, “She faces charges that are baseless. The police have leads that are assumptions originated from air. . . . She will be acquitted on all charges as well.”

Washington vehemently denied he has ever imported drugs into Japan.

The Indiana University product added that his business interests in California — among them a medical marijuana dispensary — have no connection with his case in Japan.

“When I received my MBA two years ago, I identified myself as an investor within the quadrant of business politics,” Washington said. “The (legal) medical marijuana business is a lucrative business in California’s competitive markets, as well as IT, manufacturing and entertainment. So, yes, I invested, but the club I invested in is not related to the alleged accusations.”

Washington maintained his innocence throughout his Japan Times interview.

“The basketball world must realize that I was acquitted and found not guilty of all charges without going to court,” Washington said.

“The police tested me for marijuana five weeks ago and my test was clean,” he said. “Wrong place, wrong time; guilty by association, certainly. . . . Clean, absolutely so.”

Explaining the events that led to his arrest, Washington summed it up this way:

“What made the police suspicious was the X-ray machine used in the parcel customs department. After one early morning, the police came into my house, took my phone, computer and my wife. They obviously thought they were going to find valuable evidence through technological eavesdropping. They did not. They did not find any paraphernalia whatsoever either.”

He added: “This situation has made me more humble and appreciate the little things in life. I am saddened by this event. What people seem to forget is what the accused go through. My children, my wife and my life have been ripped away in the span of five weeks.

“Not trying to play the victim here because it rains on the just and the unjust alike. Nevertheless, courtesy should not be forgotten. One might find themselves in tougher situations.”

The Evessa, meanwhile, are in second place in the Western Conference standings, hoping to reach the title game for the fifth time in franchise history this season, but first under second-year head coach Ryan Blackwell.

Washington is ready and willing — eager, too — to be back on the court to help his teammates win games.

“About me playing ball,” he insisted, “give me a week of training and four games with the Lord with me, and I’m back where I left off. . . . “I love the game of basketball; I love the fans of Japan.”