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More theft charges filed against pair

Authorities filed additional charges against the two former South Carolina women’s basketball players accused of stealing credit and debit cards, and planning to sell marijuana — and there could be more charges coming.

A day after being released from the Richland County jail, Jasmine Payne and Ashlie Billingslea were back in jail Thursday after USC police linked them to other missing credit cards at the Blatt P.E. Center on campus.

During a monthlong stretch beginning in late February, police believe the players stole three sets of credit or debit cards from the Blatt Center and used them for shopping sprees at area discount stores and gas stations.

Payne, 18, of Bay Springs, Miss., is charged in connection with all three of the credit card thefts and faces a total of 11 charges, including five felonies, according to arrest warrants.

Billingslea, 19, of Stone Mountain, Ga., faces four felonies and a total of eight counts for her role in two of the thefts.

USC spokesman Russ McKinney said police are treating the matter as an active investigation.

Both players were kicked out of the university and dismissed from the team Wednesday, a day after police arrested the freshman guards following a search of their dorm room.

In addition to finding two of the stolen cards and a card receipt in the room, police also seized 28.9 grams of marijuana. The pot was stored in 44 individual bags tucked in a sunglasses case in a bag with Billingslea’s name on it, according to the warrants.

Payne told police she obtained the pot and gave it to Billingslea to hold.

Both players were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute within a half-mile of a school. The latter charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Authorities claim that on Feb. 25, Payne and Billingslea took money and property worth approximately $305 from an unnamed person at the Blatt Center, a facility that houses a natatorium, basketball courts and the school’s P.E. department.

The two also took credit cards they used to purchase items valued at less than $100, the warrants stated.

Payne and Billingslea returned to the Blatt Center on March 20 and swiped $25 and financial cards from the wallet of a law student, police said. They used the cards the same night to purchase $408 in items from a Wal-Mart.

According to police, Payne was back at the Blatt Center six days later, where she took $40 in currency and property, two Bank of America cards and a student ID from an unnamed person. Payne attempted to use one of the cards at a Shell station, but it was declined.

A video surveillance system at the Blatt Center captured images of Payne committing the theft, the warrants stated. Police recovered the Bank of America cards during the search of her room.

After all-state careers in high school, Payne and Billingslea arrived at USC last fall as part of a nationally ranked recruiting class. Payne appeared in 25 games for the Gamecocks this season, averaging 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds.

Billingslea, who underwent preseason knee surgery, returned to average 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 14 games.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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