Freshman Pitt forward John Hugley had three felony charges against him dropped in a preliminary hearing in on Thursday.
Appearing in court for the first time since he was charged in January in connection with a vehicle stolen from near Pitt’s campus last July, Hugley had two charges of criminal conspiracy and one charge of receiving property dropped by prosecutors for one charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a second-degree misdemeanor.
That charge and a summary violation for driving without a license were held for court, with Hugley waiving his right to a preliminary hearing on those charges.
As a non-violent, first-time offender, Hugley will be eligible for Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, or ARD. He will have a formal arraignment on July 1.
Hugley’s attorney, Frank Walker, said his client is taking responsibility for actions and hopes to complete the ARD program and graduate from college with a clean record.
“I think it’s a classic case of a college kid making a bad decision, doing something stupid,” Walker said. “He has accepted the responsibility.”
“We were able to get the felonies reduced down to misdemeanors, which is wonderful for him as a young man, starting out not having any felonies on his record. Second, if he goes through the ARD program, he gets all those charges dismissed if he does everything he’s supposed to and get out of college with a clean record.”
Appearing in front of magistrate James J. Hanley Jr. in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Hugley was mostly silent throughout the brief proceeding. As Hugley waived his right to a full preliminary hearing, no evidence was formally presented on Thursday.
According to a copy of the criminal complaint levied against Hugley that was obtained by Pittsburgh Sports Now, Hugley and an unidentified accomplice stole a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu that had been parked on Coltart Avenue in Oakland near Pitt’s campus on July 19, 2020.
Police say they obtained video that shows two black men, later identified as Hugley and his friend, enter the vehicle and drive it away.
The vehicle was recovered by Pittsburgh Police on Aug. 27 and that point, the vehicle had a stolen license plate on it. Using a hit on that plate from a license plate reader, Pittsburgh Police, along with University of Pittsburgh Police, were able to locate video evidence of a black male later identified as Hugley exiting the car on Aug. 2.
Hugley wasn’t charged with the crime until January 14. It was at that point that he was suspended from the Pitt basketball team.
Hugley has been attending classes online at Pitt since January, and Walker said the next step for Hugley to return to Pitt is going through the school’s disciplinary system.
Hugley remains indefinitely suspended from the Pitt basketball program, and a Pitt basketball spokesperson did not have an update on his status as of Thursday afternoon.
If he returns to college basketball, Hugley will have four seasons of athletic eligibility remaining thanks to the NCAA’s blanket eligibility waiver for the pandemic-impacted 2020-21 school year.
A 6-foot-9 freshman and four-star prospect out of Brush High School in Cleveland, Ohio, Hugley played in seven games and made one start last season for Pitt. He scored 36 points and grabbed 30 rebounds while averaging 14.9 minutes per game.
Pitt has had significant difficulty in replacing Hugley on the floor. Abdoul Karim Coulibaly and Terrell Brown, who both played increased minutes after Hugley’s suspension last season, have both transferred from the team.
Pitt head coach Jeff Capel targeted five-star Class of 2021 center prospect Efton Reid, but Reid chose LSU over Pitt and others on Sunday.