Center was arrested in nightclub incident

Updated: August 28, 2004, 2:25 AM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Seattle SuperSonics center Vitaly Potapenko will avoid prosecution on misdemeanor charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence if he successfully completes a pretrial diversion program.

Miami-Dade County Judge Jeffrey Swartz on Wednesday approved the NBA player's entry into The Advocate Program, a nonprofit organization under contract with the courts for people accepted into diversion programs. The program's staffers will determine what Potapenko will have to do to meet its requirements.

Assistant State Attorney Deisy Rodriguez said Potapenko will not be prosecuted if he completes the program.

Potapenko, 29, was arrested July 11 outside Crobar nightclub after arguing with a security guard who refused him entrance. The Miami Beach police report said he was swaying back and forth, unable to maintain his balance and slurring his speech.

The report said also Potapenko's clothes were disheveled and he had a strong smell of alcohol. The report said that he was arrested after refusing to leave, telling police, "You can't tell me. You can't arrest me. I'm not going anywhere. You can't arrest me, I'm not driving."

Potapenko, a 6-foot-10, 285-pound native of Kiev, Ukraine, was acquired from Boston in a trade for Vin Baker in July 2002. He averaged 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in 39 games after he became a starter in late January.

He lives in Florida in the offseason and has one year remaining on a six-year, $33 million contract.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press