Andre Cornelius, senior point guard for the George Mason University men’s basketball team, has been suspended from the team pending the outcome of credit card fraud and larceny charges, resulting from his arrest Friday, Sept. 16.

Mason has since announced that Cornelius will be subject to a judicial review in addition to a criminal trial.

“[Cornelius] has been summarily suspended pending the outcome of the legal proceedings and an investigation by the university’s Office of Judicial Affairs,” said Maureen Nasser, director of communications for the athletic department.

Cornelius appeared in court Tuesday, Sept. 20 for his arraignment at the Fairfax County Courthouse. He did not have to answer to any charges at the arraignment, but the defendant did introduce his attorney, Councilman Manuel A. Capsalis.

A basketball team manager also accompanied Cornelius at the arraignment hearing. It is unclear at this time why the team manager was present in the courtroom.

Both Cornelius and his attorney are expected to return to the Fairfax County Courthouse for the preliminary court hearing scheduled for Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.

According to the Mason Police Botter for Sept. 16, Cornelius was arrested by Mason police for credit card fraud and credit card larceny. He was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and released on $1,500 unsecured bond.

After arriving at the Fairfax County ADC, Cornelius was released on personal recognizance, allowing him to be released without posting bail after agreeing to appear in court and answer for the charges brought against him.

Fairfax County General District Court confirmed Cornelius is being charged with two counts: one count of felony larceny and one count of misdemeanor fraud.

On Sept. 19, the Mason Police Department said the case is an “ongoing investigation” and they would not report on specifics details of the case at that time.

The department has since corrected their statement by asserting that the investigation of the case is closed.

Per department policy, the Mason Police Department has declined to disclose information beyond criminal incident information viewable on blotter.

C2M has pursued all public case records guaranteed accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

Later in the week, the Fairfax County General District Court published updated case information.

Criminal case details specify that Cornelius is being charged with credit card fraud and larceny, in violation of VA code 18.2-192.
According to the Code of Virginia — Virginia’s statutory law — a person is guilty of credit card or credit card number theft under four instances:

(a) He takes, obtains or withholds a credit card or credit card number from the person, possession, custody or control of another without the cardholder’s consent or who, with knowledge that it has been

so taken, obtained or withheld, receives the credit card or credit card number with intent to use it or sell it, or to transfer it to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder; or

(b) He receives a credit card or credit card number that he knows to have been lost, mislaid or delivered under a mistake as to the identity or address of the cardholder, and who retains possession with intent to use, to sell or to transfer the credit card or credit card number to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder; or

(c) He, not being the issuer, sells a credit card or credit card number or buys a credit card or credit card number from a person other than the issuer; or

(d) He, not being the issuer, during any twelve-month period, receives credit cards or credit card numbers issued in the names of two or more persons which he has reason to know were taken or retained under circumstances which constitute a violation of 18.2-194 and subdivision (1) (c) of this section.

Court records also indicate the offense occurred on July 12, 2011.

Three days later, on July 15, the Mason Police Blotter listed a complaint of credit card theft.

The description of that incident reads, “Credit card was taken from victim’s room and was used at several locations.” The crime log also states the incident occurred in the Eastern Shore residence hall on Mason’s Fairfax campus. Case status is pending.

It has not been verified whether the complaint is related to the Cornelius case.

The Washington Post published a quote from an unnamed source who claimed Cornelius “found a credit card on campus in July, used it to purchase food and gasoline valued at about $60 and then threw away the card.”

Major George Ginovsky of the Mason Police Department has declined to disclose specific case information but did outline the general procedure for conducting an investigation when an individual is suspected of credit card fraud or larceny.

According to Ginovsky, the first step is usually to talk to the victim and other witnesses. After following those leads, the detective or investigator then usually consults technologies such as video surveillance and attempts to trace data if the credit card was used.

Ginovsky said he urges students and community members to take two important precautions in order to limit instances of theft and larceny on campus.

“If you’re in the [Johnson Center] or library, don’t leave property unattended,” Ginovsky said. “If you’re living in a residence hall, lock the door to your room.”

Police suspect the majority of thefts occurring in a residence hall are not performed by individuals breaking in or forcing access, but by other residents of the building, said Ginovsky.

Earlier in the week, Cornelius “tweeted” two messages from his Twitter account to his followers, likely in response to his arrest.
On Monday, Sept. 19, Cornelius wrote, “I’m doing some re- evaluating in my life all negative people must go I gotta make changes if u ain’t gone have my back den u gotta go.”

Later that day, he sent another message: “These past couple of days really opened my eyes and made me think people r not who u think they are.”

Cornelius started every game for the Patriots last season in which he averaged 9.5 points per game and led Mason with 61 3-point field goals. He was figured to be a big part of the Patriots rotation this year.

Cornelius has not been reached for comment by C2M.

C2M will continue to follow this story leading up to the preliminary hearing on Nov. 15.

Broadside Editor-in-chief Gregory Connolly and C2M Sports Reporter John Powell contributed to this report.