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Firearms dealing charge against Howard dropped

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- A federal judge has dismissed a
firearms dealing charge against suspended West Virginia University
linebacker Muhammad "Mo" Howard.

Judge John S. Kaull granted the prosecution's request to dismiss
the charges on Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Angus Morgan
wrote in an affidavit that since the charges were brought against
Howard "the development of the evidence" had led the government
to decline to make its case.

Court filings did not elaborate on what changes to the evidence
had taken place, and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office
did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Howard, a 22-year-old from Baltimore, had been accused of buying
more than 20 inexpensive firearms between March 26 and June 2,
2003, from Morgantown firearms dealer Colonial Arms and selling
them without a license.

Howard told authorities he started to complete the paperwork for
a federal firearms license but did not finish it, according to the
complaint.

Howard's attorney, Brian Kornbrath, did not immediately return a
call seeking comment.

Coach Rich Rodriguez had suspended Howard from the team pending
the outcome of the investigation. Athletic department spokeswoman
Shelly Poe said Rodriguez was traveling, but planned to meet with
Howard next week.

Howard, who also plays on special teams, had eight tackles in as
many games last season with the Mountaineers, including five
unassisted tackles.