- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Charges against Mike Richards were stayed in a Manitoba provincial court on Wednesday, meaning that the prosecution has decided not to move forward with its case against the Washington Capitals center.

Richards was arrested on June 17 and charged with possession of a controlled substance while trying to cross the border from Pembina, North Dakota into Emerson, Manitoba.

According to Richards‘ Toronto-based lawyer, David M. Humphrey, “as the Crown had elected to proceed summarily, this was the Canadian equivalent of a misdemeanor.”

The incident led to the Los Angeles Kings filing to terminate Richards‘ 12-year, $69 million contract two weeks later. Richards and the team eventually settled the matter on Oct. 9 for $10.5 million, just shy of the $22 million remaining on the deal, and Richards signed with the Capitals on Jan. 6 for the remainder of the season.

A hearing had originally been scheduled for Sept. 10 before it was continued three times, first to Dec. 8, then to Jan. 28 and once again for Thursday. The charges have not been withdrawn completely; though rare, they can be brought by the government against Richards once again if additional evidence is found.

Mr. Richards always maintained that he would plead not guilty and would defend the case vigorously,” Humphrey wrote in a statement. “After the Crown brief was disclosed to the defense, Mr. Richards‘ counsel advised the Crown of fatal defects in the prosecution case. The Crown and defense agreed that follow-up investigation was warranted. That investigation has been completed and the Crown decided to stay the charge, thereby ending prosecution.”

Richards has played in 15 games for the Capitals this season and scored his first goal with his new team in its 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

After signing Richards, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he was confident that Richards‘ legal standing would have no effect on his status with the team.

“For him, I think it’s a big weight off his shoulders,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I think it frees him mentally to concentrate on being the Mike Richards that we’re starting to see on a regular basis here and it’s pretty good to see, because I think he’s going to be a real important piece for us.”

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