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DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; NEW ORLEANS -- Federal authorities are looking into allegations made in a civil lawsuit accusing the Saints of trying to cover up a senior staff member's theft of prescription Vicodin pills from the club's training headquarters. "The DEA was referred ...

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Old 05-02-2010, 11:32 PM   #1
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DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- Federal authorities are looking into allegations made in a civil lawsuit accusing the Saints of trying to cover up a senior staff member's theft of prescription Vicodin pills from the club's training headquarters.

"The DEA was referred this case and there is a pending investigation," said Special Agent Roberto Bryan Jr., a New Orleans-based spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The civil suit was filed Friday by former Saints security director Geoffrey Santini, a retired FBI agent who gave federal authorities evidence he collected before resigning from the team last August.
The accusations also could constitute state offenses, but local authorities say they have yet to begin a probe of their own.
Jefferson Parish sheriff's spokesman Col. John Fortunato said his department did not become aware of the allegations until after the civil lawsuit was filed. "It hasn't been turned into a criminal investigation as of yet," Fortunato said.

The Saints have said the allegations are false and represent an attempt by Santini, who resigned last August, to shake down the club. Team spokesman Greg Bensel has said the club will aggressively defend itself in court.


Head coach Sean Payton is so far the only member of the franchise other than Bensel to comment on the case.
Payton issued a statement through the team, asserting he has never abused or stolen Vicodin, a narcotic used to relieve moderate to severe pain.

Payton spoke out when people familiar with the lawsuit said the coach was the unidentified person in the complaint who allegedly was permitted to take a large enough amount of Vicodin from the team's drug locker to constitute abuse.
Nothing in the complaint indicated that Payton, who was not named in the lawsuit, had done anything illegal. However, the complaint said another "senior staff member" used a trainer's key to steal Vicodin from the drug locker.

The people who spoke to The Associated Press about the case -- on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the allegations -- said that other staff member was linebackers coach Joe Vitt.
The lawsuit describes video surveillance catching Vitt taking keys from a trainer's office and using them to get into the team's drug locker to take Vicodin.

Vitt did not respond to a message sent to his work e-mail seeking comment. The Saints and their defense lawyers also did not respond to requests for help in contacting Vitt to see if he had anything to say on the matter.
In his lawsuit, Santini claims he was ordered to keep quiet about the Vicodin matter. He also claims two trainers were told by a top team executive to forge entrees in official logs so the amount of Vicodin stolen would be reflected as an amount that had been properly distributed.
Santini said being ordered to either undertake or ignore activity he thought may be criminal was what led him to resign, and he is seeking damages and back pay.

Meanwhile, Saints owner Tom Benson traveled to New York on Sunday in advance of regularly scheduled NFL finance committee meetings. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said there were no immediate plans for commissioner Roger Goodell to meet with Benson about Santini's lawsuit. Aiello said the NFL has a copy of the complaint and is following developments for now.



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Old 05-02-2010, 11:36 PM   #2
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

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Old 05-03-2010, 08:12 AM   #3
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

This can't be good. What happens if he's found guilty?
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:11 AM   #4
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

I dont think Payton will go down for this ...judges and juries look down on blackmailers.

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Old 05-03-2010, 09:26 AM   #5
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

"vicodin?" pffft.

get some real drugs.

had me worried for a minute there.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:26 AM   #6
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

This will get messy. The accuser is an Ex FBI agent with a hell of a background.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:43 AM   #7
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

Here is the breakdown on the situation from one Peter King:

We begin this morning with a headache of headaches for the New Orleans Saints, a story the team has fervently denied but one that isn't going away soon unless the Drug Enforcement Administration makes it go away.

The story involves the dispensation and alleged theft of 130 Vicodin tablets from the Saints' drug locker at the team's offices and training facility in New Orleans over a four-month period early in 2009. A lawsuit filed by discharged former Saints' security director Geoffrey Santini, a former FBI agent, describes the recipients of the Vicodin as "Senior Staff Member A'' and "Senior Staff Member B,'' and profootballtalk.com reported Saturday that coach Sean Payton is Senior Staff Member A, with assistant head coach Joe Vitt Senior Staff Member B.

I've read the 13-page lawsuit, filed Friday in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com reported that Santini sought a $2 million settlement to not file the suit last week and the Saints didn't respond. I'm told the Saints turned over all evidence in the case to the DEA in June and have been waiting for a decision in the case ever since. On Friday, the Saints said the lawsuit had no merit, and that Santini, in effect, had shopped the lawsuit to them before filing it. On Saturday, after the profootballtalk.com report, Payton said, "I have never abused or stolen Vicodin or any other medication.''

The allegations in Santini's suit, in essence, include these: Vitt had a medical problem that required the use of pain-killers and he was being prescribed Vicodin to help him deal with the condition; Payton didn't have a medical condition that required pain-killers but was using them. Santini, additionally, said Saints general manager Mickey Loomis covered up Payton's use of Vicodin while trying to protect Vitt from being prosecuted for stealing additional Vicodin.

Every NFL team has to account for the prescription drugs it dispenses. The training staff keeps medication under lock and key and distributes it only after a team doctor or trainer prescribes it. Apparently, Vitt was being prescribed Vicodin -- it's possible that Payton, at some point, may have been taking it for a time too, as prescribed. The lawsuit makes it clear that in January through April 2009, a theft of approximately 110 Vicodin tablets occurred from the drug locker. Santini's suit says Loomis directed that a hidden camera be installed in the trainer's room, so any further theft of Vicodin could be captured on video.

On the morning of April 30, 2009, according to the suit, Santini was informed that eight pills were missing from a Vicodin bottle of 100 pills. The videotape showed Senior Staff Member B -- Vitt -- using the keys from trainer Scottie Patton's office to open the drug locker and take eight pills from a bottle of Vicodin.

When Santini told Loomis about the theft, the suit alleges, Loomis told Santini and the trainers "to keep all of this confidential ... Plaintiff then told GM Loomis that the video needed to be copied for use during the NFL audit. GM Loomis stated, 'No, this is not a criminal investigation. Plaintiff told Loomis the event should be reported and without copying the video it would eventually be overwritten by the recording equipment and erased. Loomis told the Plaintiff to 'let it go,' in effect instructing the Plaintiff to allow the destruction of evidence of a felony. Plaintiff then told GM Loomis that the crime should be reported, and he [Loomis] stated "this is not a criminal investigation.'' GM Loomis left plaintiff's office and plaintiff made a copy of the video onto a video cassette.''

"SSMB'' was discovered to have taken 12 pills the next day. The bottle was moved to a more secure location, and the next day SSMB was taped unsuccessfully trying to gain access to the pills. Santini alleges that Patton, in a meeting two weeks later, was going to adjust the dispensing logs "to reflect that SSMB had received all of the missing Vicodin, such that the totals on the monthly recap sheets would match the total dispensed.'' The suit says in a meeting the next day, assistant trainer Kevin Mangum told Santini of the directive to adjust the logs, "I think, I think it came from Mickey.''

Payton's involvement in the case seems almost tangential. Most of the accusations concern Vitt allegedly stealing the Vicodin and Santini describing Loomis trying to cover it up. On page six of the suit, Santini asks Mangum, referring to Payton, "How are they going to explain [SSMA]?''

"He's stopped,'' Mangum said, according to the suit. "Somebody has talked to him.''

On June 22, the suit alleges, Patton told Santini he would not change the logs, and a day later, Loomis told Santini the logs would not be changed before being turned in to the NFL for an annual audit. "Later in the conversation, GM Loomis stated that [SSMB] admitted to him that [SSMB] had stolen all of the pills,'' the suit says.

Later, the suit says, "Subsequent conversations ensued between plaintiff and GM Loomis concerning upcoming discussions with the DEA about the situation and the need to keep [SSMA]'s name out of the conversation.''

There you have it. The consequences could be dire for several people -- Loomis, if he's found to have covered up a felony theft of prescription medication, Vitt, if he's found guilty of stealing Vicodin, the trainers, if they're found culpable, and Payton, if he's found to have taken Vicodin without a prescription. Of course, the consequences could be just as dire for Santini in counter-claims by the Saints if the story he has told is exaggerated or invented.

"Mickey is adamant he did nothing wrong,'' said a source close to the Saints. "Sean is beside himself -- he swears this is a trumped-up charge.''

Every Saints fan this morning -- and a nation charmed by the improbable story of the Super Bowl Saints -- has to hope the same thing.



My take is that it's going to be extremely hard to prove that Loomis or Payton did anything wrong. Especially Payton. Vitt on the other hand could be in hot water and it will be interesting to see if he flips under pressure and provides evidence against the other two. These are serious charges with felony implications. One can only hope the Saints have evidence that this Santini guy was trying to shake them down. That would throw a serious monkey wrench in the case but might not necessarily kill it either. As Saints fans we can only hope this won't affect the coaches or teams performance this year. I for one can't get what's going on with Payton. Right now he is involved in a class action lawsuit vs a Chinese company for poisinous drywall, a class action lawsuit against a gentlemen for scamming him and other members of the team and Archie Manning out of millions on phony tax credits, and now this?

How the hell does this guy have any time to coach the football team?

Last edited by stockman311; 05-03-2010 at 11:52 AM..
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:01 PM   #8
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

No matter what this sucks cause it hurts the image of the team. No matter what the out come.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:11 PM   #9
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

I don't think it hurts the teams image that bad. No where close the damage spy gate did to the Patriots. This is a non football related issue. Fans only care about the games for the most part.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:20 PM   #10
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Re: DEA probes drug abuse claims against Saints

Originally Posted by foreverfan View Post
This can't be good. What happens if he's found guilty?
I Don't see S. Payton going down for anything but if it does, he'll go to Jail, fined, released, fined by the NFL and possibly suspended..

In the mean time the Saints Org will be the butt of a lot of Jokes, ridicule, and used as an example of what not to do..

on top of all of that the Lockerroom could fall to pieces, Sean Payton made it a point to have a locker room filled with character people, if his character is subject to questioning, players wont take him seriously anymore on the whole character thing and this could have a lil rip in the fabric of what made this team one of the greatest in the NFL..

But again i don't see much coming out of this with S. Payton being involved... but you never know..
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