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High school football: Bingham's Viliseni Fauonuku suspended two games

Published: Saturday, Sept. 25 2010 12:25 a.m. MDT

SOUTH JORDAN — Bingham High star lineman Viliseni Fauonuku, a University of Utah recruit, served the first of a two-game suspension Friday night against Kearns for violating the team's code of conduct. He'll also miss next week's game at Copper Hills.

The suspension was levied Friday morning after a meeting between Bingham principal Tom Hicks, Bingham coach Dave Peck and Fauonuku's mother.

"I won't comment on any individual situation, regarding any student disciplinary issue," said Hicks.

Fauonuku, 17, has been charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, for an incident on March 31. He's accused of holding five teens at gunpoint and stealing two wallets at a party in a garage of a West Jordan home.

Fauonuku is being charged as an adult and has a pretrial hearing set for Nov. 2 in front of Judge Adkins in the Third District Court in West Jordan. Aggravated robbery can carry a sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Despite the charges, which seem to violate Bingham's football code of conduct, Fauonuku had been allowed to play in Bingham's first four games this season, recording 17 tackles.

Peck was aware of the charges all along, but decided not to suspend Fauonuku until the judicial process played out. That sentiment within the school seemed to change Friday morning in light of a story that made the charges public for the first time.

Bingham's football team prides itself in a strict code of conduct, but its validity was questioned Friday when word got out that Fauonuku had been playing despite the felony charges.

Peck was instructed Friday by Bingham's administrators to no longer comment specifically about the situation with the media, but did say he believes Fauonuku is still a good kid who made a mistake.

An accomplice in the alleged incident, former Bingham player Sam Langi, 20, pleaded guilty on Aug. 17 to a reduced charge and received three years probation.

Fauonuku has verbally committed to the University of Utah, and was prepared to sign his National Letter of Intent in February. How this incident affects his scholarship offer remains to be seen.

"It's an NCAA violation for us to comment on a player until he's signed," said Liz Abel, University of Utah sports information director and associate athletics director.

Fauonuku's attorney, Christine Seaman, was unavailable for comment.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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