GPS Data Ties Leaf to Burglary
Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was arrested again Monday, just days after he posted bail on similar charges that he burglarized a home and stole prescription drugs, authorities said.
According to ESPN News, Leaf was first arrested on Friday after police found oxycodone pills in his golf bag that an acquaintance later said Leaf stole from his home. Then early Monday, three days after posting a $76,000 bond, he was arrested again on accusations that he broke into another home outside Great Falls, Central Montana Drug Task Force commander Chris Hickman said.
The owners walked into the home Sunday afternoon to find a “tall man with an athletic build” inside, Hickman said. The man told the owners he had the wrong address and left.
The owners later discovered three bottles of prescription medication missing and phoned police. After describing his truck, his clothes and his “shiny black loafers,” they picked Leaf out of a photo lineup.
A search of Leaf’s home turned up 89 hydrocodone pills loose in the pocket of a bathrobe. Authorities do not believe those were the same pills that were taken from the burgled home, Hickman said.
“We don’t know if he disposed of them or if he has a hiding place where he stores these things,” Hickman said.
Leaf’s attorney, Ken Olson, did not respond to a call for comment. A call to Leaf’s publicist was not returned Monday.
Leaf tested positive for drugs at the time of his arrest Friday, according to a sworn statement filed by Hickman with Cascade County District Court. Leaf admitted he had taken about seven oxycodone pills in the past few weeks, including one the day before the arrest, the documents say.
Police obtained a warrant Monday and reviewed data from the GPS system in Leaf’s pickup truck, searching for information that would link Leaf to the burglaries.
“The navigational system shows that he was in that driveway yesterday afternoon during the time frame of the burglary,” Hickman said.
The GPS system data also showed the truck drove up to between five and 10 other houses in the area, and authorities were checking with the residents there, he said.
More people have come forward with claims of stolen painkillers since Leaf’s arrest Friday, though the task force has not yet investigated those claims.
The task force plans to go back through the GPS system’s data history to pinpoint the truck’s location during Thursday’s burglary and to see whether it contains information that would lead investigators to a stash of stolen painkillers.
Hickman and other members of the task force arrested Leaf at his home early Monday.
“When I advised him that he was going to be charged with another count of burglary for the events that occurred, he didn’t show any surprise — and he didn’t make any confessions or admissions,” Hickman said.
Leaf appeared by video from the Cascade County Detention Center in his initial court appearance in Great Falls on Monday afternoon on two felony counts of burglary, two felony counts of criminal possession of a dangerous drug, two misdemeanor counts of theft and a probation violation.
He will remain in jail until Wednesday while his probation supervisors decide whether to release him again on bond or revoke the suspended sentence he was given in Texas in 2010, the Great Falls Tribune reported.
The probation violation is related to a plea agreement Leaf made in Texas after being accused in 2009 of burglarizing a player’s home while he was a quarterbacks coach for Division II West Texas A&M. An investigation turned up that Leaf had obtained nearly 1,000 pain pills from area pharmacies in an eight-month span.
His plea agreement gave him 10 years of probation. Randall County District Attorney James Farren said he planned to file a motion Monday to revoke Leaf’s probation.
Farren said the Texas judge in that case could set a hearing date, extradite Leaf for the hearing and then return Leaf to Montana for the proceedings in that state.
“Our argument will be that he should go to prison,” Farren said.
Leaf arrest’s on Friday was the result of a month-long investigation that started with a tip that Leaf had been receiving small, rattling cash-on-delivery packages at the post office worth $500 or more once or twice a week.
A search of Leaf and his pickup truck turned up 28 oxycodone pills, a narcotic for which Leaf does not have a prescription, Hickman said. The label on an empty prescription bottle also found in Leaf’s golf bag was made out to an acquaintance, who told police that Leaf entered his house without permission on Thursday and stole the bottle, which contained about 15 pills.
Hickman said police don’t know where the other 13 pills came from.
“Leaf eventually admitted to stealing some Oxycodone pills from the associate whose name was on the empty prescription bottle,” Hickman wrote in his statement.
Hickman said authorities believe Leaf may have broken into other homes over the past 1½ years in search of prescription drugs and is asking those victims to come forward.
Leaf released a statement through his publicist after his first arrest on Friday that says he has “made some mistakes and have no excuses” but that he is “confident that there will be further understanding when the facts are revealed.”
Leaf, a former standout quarterback for Washington State, was the No. 2 pick in the 1998 draft behind Peyton Manning. But Leaf flamed out as quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, gaining a reputation as one of the biggest busts in NFL history
Last year, Leaf had surgery to remove a benign tumor from his brain stem and later underwent additional radiation treatments.
On March 21, Leaf told an Associated Press reporter in an email exchange that he had struggled through treatments and had an MRI scheduled for the end of the month, but “I’m doing/feeling much better and am excited for the rest of 2012.”