Robbery scandal: Two US swimmers leave Rio, third pays fine

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Two American Olympic swimmers were on their way home on Friday after being pulled off a plane a day earlier to testify about an alleged robbery at the Rio Olympics that Brazilian police said was made up. The lawyer for a third U.S. swimmer said he would make a $10,800 payment and leave Brazil later in the day.
The drama surrounding the alleged robbery of American swimmers and their ever-changing descriptions of it has shocked and deeply angered Brazilians, who said it cast a false negative shadow on their city and their Olympics. The story has also dominated Olympic headlines, overshadowing the worthy accomplishments of athletes who had trained for years just to get to Rio and set records during their performances at these Olympics. The rapid-fire developments early Friday came hours after police announced that Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates had not been held at gunpoint after a night of partying, as he claimed. Instead, Brazilian police said the men, while intoxicated, vandalised a gas station bathroom and were questioned by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left. The saga was an enormous embarrassment for the U.S. Olympic team, which had otherwise dominated the games. It also deeply wounded a country eager to prove it could host the first games in Latin America despite concerns it could not keep athletes and spectators safe from rampant street crime.
“No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Civil Police
Chief Fernando Veloso told a news conference.
As two of the swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were whisked through airport security and onto a plane home on Thursday night, their attorney insisted they had nothing to do with Lochte’s story. Lochte himself left the country earlier this week. Bentz and Conger “were heard only as witnesses. This has to be made very, very clear,” lawyer Sergio Riera told The Associated Press. “They did not make any untruthful testimony. They did not lie in their statements.”
A lawyer for another swimmer, James Feigen, said early Friday that the athlete had reached an agreement with a judge in which he planned to donate 35,000 Brazilian reals ($10,800) to an “institution” and leave the country later in the day. Attorney Breno Melaragno said under the agreement, Feigen will make the donation, get his passport back and depart. Melaragno did not specify where the money will go, but his use of the term “institution” can be taken to mean a charity. He said that under Brazilian law, a donation can be made to avoid criminal prosecution for minor offenses, but did not say what charge was being contemplated.

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