CLEMSON — An ongoing criminal investigation into credit card theft and
burglary on the Clemson University campus culminated Tuesday with the arrest
of three of the school’s football players.
Tyrone Dewayne Dickerson, 19, of Rock Hill, Marcus Kennan Lewis, 20, of
Lithonia, Ga., and Paul White, Jr., 20, of Columbia were arrested early
Tuesday evening and taken to the Clemson City Jail. All three players were
charged with five counts of first degree burglary, one count of interference
with a fire alarm and one count of simple larceny.
The burglary charges are felonies, each carrying a possible jail term of zero
to life in prison. The other two counts are each misdemeanors.
The three players, all sophomore defensive linemen, were led out of the
university police station in handcuffs at approximately 7 p.m. Tuesday. None
made any comment before being placed into squad cars and driven to the city
A release from the university said head coach Tommy Bowden had suspended all
three players indefinitely. Bowden was unavailable for comment Tuesday
“Once they were confronted with the accusations and charges, they all readily
admitted that they did in fact do this,” said Clemson University Police Chief
Lonnie Saxon. “I talked to them about (the charges) and the bearing it has on
their families. They were pretty quiet.
“I don’t know exactly how they feel...but sometimes young people think
they’re into fun and games. But this is very serious, Clemson takes it very
serious, and we’ll see what happens.”
According to arrest warrants, the trio staged a series of five robberies
over three different nights at Byrnes and Lever Halls between July 30 and
Nov. 30, 2000.
Saxon said the three would set off a fire alarm in a dormitory, forcing the
building to be evacuated. With a lookout standing guard, the players would
then sneak into the empty rooms and proceed to steal credit cards and/or
financial transaction cards. In one instance, $64 in jewelry also was stolen.
The three players then took the stolen credit cards to various area
merchants, where they purchased high-ticket items such as televisions, DVD
players, CD players, telephones and video games, along with other items such
as clothes and shoes.
Saxon said the charges levied against Dickerson, Lewis and White do not
include any purchases made with the stolen credit cards. The solicitor’s
office is still examining that aspect of the case, and additional charges
could be forthcoming.
Information about the thefts originally came to light when complaints began
to filter in concerning the missing cards. Over the course of the
investigation, police were able to identify Lewis and White on video tape at
Wal-Mart in both Seneca and Anderson, using the stolen cards to make
Later, when White was indicted on federal counterfeiting charges on Nov. 28,
2000, he provided information to authorities that aided in the investigation
of the credit card thefts. White entered a guilty plea to charges of
conspiracy in the counterfeiting case, and is awaiting a sentence that could
be as long as five years imprisonment.
Dean Brown of the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the United State
Secret Service each aided in the investigation of both cases.
“I’ve been in this business for 30 years and nothing surprises me anymore,”
Saxon said. “We talk to the football team, we talk to all the athletes. The
athletic department is doing a wonderful job. The coaches in all sports try
hard to try not to have anything happen like this. But they happen. The coach
can’t live with them, can’t stay with them all the time.
“It’s like when your children leave your yard. You don’t know what they’re
doing. I raised two of them and thank God I didn’t have many problems, but
you never know when they leave. And that’s what I told the parents of these
Dickerson, Lewis and White face arraignment this morning before Circuit Judge
Henry Floyd in Easley on the burglary charges, and before Municipal Judge
Deborah Culler at the Clemson University Police Department on the two
Dan Scott is the host of SportsTalk (10AM-Noon) on 104.9 FM in Upstate SC and
Managing Editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger