Firearms dealing charge against Howard dropped

Updated: June 3, 2004, 4:58 PM ET
Associated Press

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- A federal judge has dismissed a firearms dealing charge against suspended West Virginia University linebacker Muhammad "Mo" Howard.

Judge John S. Kaull granted the prosecution's request to dismiss the charges on Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Angus Morgan wrote in an affidavit that since the charges were brought against Howard "the development of the evidence" had led the government to decline to make its case.

Court filings did not elaborate on what changes to the evidence had taken place, and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Howard, a 22-year-old from Baltimore, had been accused of buying more than 20 inexpensive firearms between March 26 and June 2, 2003, from Morgantown firearms dealer Colonial Arms and selling them without a license.

Howard told authorities he started to complete the paperwork for a federal firearms license but did not finish it, according to the complaint.

Howard's attorney, Brian Kornbrath, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Coach Rich Rodriguez had suspended Howard from the team pending the outcome of the investigation. Athletic department spokeswoman Shelly Poe said Rodriguez was traveling, but planned to meet with Howard next week.

Howard, who also plays on special teams, had eight tackles in as many games last season with the Mountaineers, including five unassisted tackles.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press