HOPKINSVILLE — Western Kentucky women's basketball player Arnika Brown reached a plea agreement Monday at the start of her trial on charges she used counterfeit money in August 2008.
Brown, a Hopkinsville native who is a senior forward at WKU, pleaded guilty in Christian County Circuit Court to 11 misdemeanor counts of third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and five counts of theft by deception under $300.
She was sentenced to two years' probation, 50 hours of community service and was ordered to pay $400 in restitution to restaurants where Brown was involved in passing counterfeit bills. She also was ordered to pay $200 in court costs, which her attorney, Rick Boling, said would be paid within 30 minutes of the deal's announcement.
"I can breathe, leave that all in the past and look forward to my senior season," Brown said after signing the agreement.
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"It's been tough on me, and I just thank the good Lord above and my attorney that it worked out the way it was supposed to."
Western Kentucky Coach Mary Taylor Cowles could not be reached shortly after the announcement of Brown's agreement.
It was not clear what effect, if any, Brown's deal would have on her playing status with the Lady Toppers.
Brown was named the Sun Belt Conference's Freshman of the Year after the 2008-09 season, then played last season as a sophomore.
Her eligibility was amended before the upcoming season, however, because Brown wasn't officially released by the University of Kentucky after her transfer from that school in 2007.
Unless UK agrees to give Brown a year of eligibility back, this will be her final season.
Brown originally faced 11 felony counts of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and five misdemeanor counts of theft by deception under $300, stemming from Aug. 9, 2008, incidents in Hopkinsville.
Boling said the plea agreement is Brown's acknowledgment that another defendant in the case, 37-year-old Yolanda Trice of Hopkinsville, was handing the fake money to Brown, who was driving that night.
"This is what we've been expecting all along, based upon her lack of criminal intent and knowledge," Boling said. "She's learned a great lesson: Be careful who you hang around with."