Cepeda fined $100 for pot possession

May 27, 2008 10:38:52 PM PDT
Former San Francisco Giant Orlando Cepeda's felony drug case ended Friday when the Hall of Famer pleaded no contest in Solano County Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana in his vehicle a year ago.

Charges that Cepeda also possessed cocaine and a hypodermic syringe were dismissed. So was Deputy District Attorney Joe Camarata.

Solano County District Attorney David Paulson immediately fired Camarata Friday, allegedly claiming that Camarata violated office policy and should have brokered a plea to a felony drug charge or taken the case to trial. Paulson was not available for comment this afternoon.

Cepeda's attorney Daniel Russo said Cepeda also was ordered to pay a $100 fine. He called the prosecution's case against Cepeda "garbage" and he said the district attorney's office pursued the charges only because Cepeda was well known.

There was one-half a marijuana roach in the vehicle and the prosecution was aware the syringe in the car was Cepeda's wife's, who is a diabetic, Russo said.

"The deputy district attorney stepped up to the plate. He's an extremely ethical person," Russo said.

The plea deal was made weeks ago but Paulson did not want to give Camarata the authority, Russo said. Russo said that Camarata had already given his two-week notice and his last day with the district attorney's office was last Friday.

Cepeda was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on May 1, 2007 during a traffic stop for speeding on Interstate Highway 80 between state Highway 12 and the Interstate Highway 680 interchange in Cordelia.

A CHP officer smelled marijuana in Cepeda's 2001 Lexus and found marijuana, a suspected controlled substance and a syringe. His felony drug case was to resume in court this week.

On Friday, Camarata and Cepeda's Russo agreed to Cepeda pleading no contest before Judge Dwight C. Ely to the misdemeanor charge.

Cepeda played for the Giants between 1958 and 1966 and for five other teams until 1974. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.

He served 10 months in jail for smuggling marijuana at the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport in 1975.


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