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Saturday, June 20, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Man Changes Dragging Story -- Bad Drug Deal, Not Possible Hate Crime

AP

SLIDELL, La. - A black man who claimed he was dragged by three white men for 2 1/2 blocks has told police it was actually a drug deal gone bad.

The reported attack last Saturday on Cornelius Weaver, 23, had been investigated by authorities as a hate crime.

James Hartman, a spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish sheriff, said yesterday that Weaver has recanted and given a taped statement to investigators that he fabricated the story.

Investigators have also talked to two women "who confessed to dragging Weaver after they ripped him off in a drug deal and he attempted to invade the car," Hartman said.

The women, who were not identified, said they bought three rocks of crack cocaine from Weaver but gave him a blank piece of paper instead of the $50 bill they promised.

Hartman said the case has been turned over to the district attorney. A variety of charges is possible, ranging from filing a false report to distribution of cocaine, carjacking or battery, he said.

Weaver's original report to police was similar to the recent assault on James Byrd Jr., 49, who was dragged to death in a racial attack in Jasper, Texas, earlier this month. Three white men believed to have ties to white-supremacist groups are suspects in that case.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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