University of Miami cornerback Thomas Finnie was suspended indefinitely from the football team after surrendering to police Tuesday morning and admitting he was involved in a laptop theft on campus last week.
Finnie, a former standout at Miami Central High School, is charged with occupied burglary and grand theft. He was taken to a Miami-Dade jail by University of Miami police personnel. He was arrested six days after police first jailed Del’Neco Streeter, 21, of Miami Beach, for trying to sell the stolen laptop to its owner for $1,000.
The latest news out of UM’s football program involving one of its players comes at a bad time. The school already is waiting to hear from the NCAA about possible infractions against its football program .
Finnie is coming off a sophomore season in which he played in 12 games and made 30 tackles, three pass breakups and one fumble recovery. He started UM’s first six games.
According to Finnie’s arrest affidavit, on Dec. 4 the 21-year-old cornerback entered a nearby dormitory room on campus and took the laptop while “there were two human beings [victim] and roommate in the structure.”
The laptop belonged to former walk-on defensive back Robert Wright, who was with the team in 2011 but not 2012.
According to Streeter’s arrest affidavit, the victim was able to place an electronic message on the laptop screen saying he would pay $1,000 for its return. When Streeter returned to campus to make the exchange, police were waiting.
After a foot chase — and the help of police dogs — Streeter was taken into custody. The second suspect at the scene, Finnie, ran away. Police caught up with him on Thursday.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Finnie has two prior arrests. He was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession on July 20 of this year. The charge was later dropped, according to court records.
Hialeah police arrested him in November 2008 and charged him with third-degree grand theft, when he was a high school sophomore.
The only response UM gave about Tuesday’s arrest or any prior arrests came from Chris Freet, UM’s associate athletic director for communications and marketing, who released this statement: “Following the arrest for his involvement in the theft of a laptop computer, UM sophomore football student-athlete Thomas Finnie has been immediately suspended from all University of Miami athletic activities.”
Asked whether Coach Al Golden knew about Finnie’s July arrest, Freet said: “I was not aware of it. Al was on the road in Georgia today recruiting [and not available].”
In an interview in June 2011 with UM’s sports information department, Finnie said he secretly wished he “could wake up 20 years from now and be in a big mansion.” He went on to say, “I really want to be the one to bring my family up to par; I want to be the one who makes it out. I want to make my mother so proud and that’s what I really want to do. I never quit, I never want to give up, because I really want to try to get there.”
The theft and subsequent arrests are related to the text message sent to the UM community last Wednesday night by the school’s Emergency Notification Network warning that there was a “Black male on campus. Wearing black and white tennis shoes, white shirt w/blk writing, black shorts.”
UM sent out a separate (but also incomplete) warning via Twitter that read like an empty template: “DESCRIPTION with WEAPON by LOCATION,” it stated.
The next day, university representatives sent out this release: “The initial ENN was both incomplete and insensitive and the University of Miami offers its sincere apologies. University leadership has already launched a full investigation of the incident, the ENN and University procedures.”
Herald Sports Writer Susan Miller Degnan and Herald Staff Writer Diana Moskovitz contributed to this report