March 25, 2010 in Sports

Former WSU QB Ryan Leaf hoping for plea bargain

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has agreed to plead guilty in his Texas drug and burglary case in exchange for 10 years of probation, attorneys in the case said Thursday.

Leaf’s attorney, Bill Kelly, said his client has agreed to plead guilty to seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of delivery of a simulated controlled substance. Leaf would be on probation for 10 years and a burglary charge would be dropped.

A judge must approve the deal, which includes Leaf paying a $20,000 fine, Kelly said.

Leaf, a Great Falls, Mont., native who is living in Canada, was a star at Washington State but a bust during his four-year NFL career. He coached quarterbacks at West Texas A&M in Canyon, where the indictment was returned last May.

Leaf was accused of presenting an incomplete medical history to several physicians between January 2008 and September 2008 to get or try to obtain the painkiller Hydrocodone. He also allegedly forced his way into a Canyon apartment in October 2008 and stole Hydrocodone that had been prescribed to an injured football player.

Randall County District Attorney James Farren said he decided to drop the burglary charge after receiving a letter from the victim, a player Leaf coached at West Texas A&M, about three weeks ago.

“He’s not happy about being a key factor in a criminal prosecution of his former coach,” Farren said. “I suspect that he and most of the young men Ryan Leaf worked with … want him to get some counseling and help. They care about him.”

It was important to get the burglary charge dropped in the deal, Kelly said.

“It would have a very negative impact and might keep Ryan from going back to Canada because of the laws that are applicable in Canada,” he said. “We need to get this behind him and get him on his way.”

Farren said a “pattern” of abusing prescription drugs will lead him to include counseling and drug testing in probation terms he’ll recommend to the judge.

If the deal is approved and Leaf successfully completes his probation there will be no convictions on his record; a record of his arrest would remain. If Leaf fails to meet the terms of his probation, he could face jail time, Farren said.

“If I were Mr. Leaf I’d want to make sure I can do this, that I can successfully complete this,” he said. “He has a lot of exposure. “It could end up being a long time” in prison.

Leaf resigned in November 2008 in the middle of his third season as quarterbacks coach. Kelly said Leaf is “doing OK” and believes he is selling vacation packages to corporate clients at a resort.

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