The Friday arrest of former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf in Great Falls, Mont., was the result of a month-long investigation by a Montana drug task force.
Great Falls Police Sgt. Chris Hickman, the commander of the Central Montana Drug Task Force, said the investigation began a month ago when police received a tip from the postal service that Leaf was making suspicious cash-on-delivery payments in excess of $500 for packages delivered from Florida one or two times per week.
Leaf, 35, is charged with possession of dangerous drugs, burglary and misdemeanor theft.
“We had reason to suspect Mr. Leaf was getting some type of prescription he wasn’t being legally prescribed,” Hickman said.
The task force requested Leaf’s probation officer to summon the former quarterback for questioning. Leaf was sentenced to 10 years of probation after pleading guilty to drug charges in Texas in April of 2010.
Police questioned Leaf and searched his home and vehicle as a condition of his probation. Inside his vehicle, Hickman said, was a golf bag. Inside the golf bag, police found two prescription pill bottles – one of which was unlabeled and contained 28 pills of Oxycodone, an opiate and schedule II narcotic which Leaf was not prescribed.
A second, empty bottle was also found, Hickman said, with a name on the label belonging to a man Hickman described as an acquaintance of Leaf.
When police interviewed Leaf a second time, Hickman said, he “gave communication to some degree” that he had obtained the pills without permission.
Hickman said after an interview with the acquaintance, police determined that Leaf had entered the acquaintance’s home in Great Falls without permission and took possession of about 15 pills, according to the acquaintance. Hickman said police are uncertain where Leaf obtained the rest of the pills allegedly found in his golf bag.
In Montana, a person can be charged with burglary if he or she “knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in an occupied structure with the purpose to commit an offense therein.” Hickman said Leaf’s alleged intrusion warrants a burglary charge, because police say he committed theft upon entering.
Leaf was arrested on the charges Friday, booked into custody and later posted $76,000 bond.
His troubles may not end in Montana. According to an Associated Press report, the West Texas district attorney who set Leaf’s plea deal in 2010 will file a motion to revoke Leaf’s probation in that case, meaning Leaf could face jail time for each of the eight drug charges to which he pled guilty.
In a statement released Friday through his publicist, Wendy Ogunsemore, Leaf said: “I’ve made some mistakes, and have no excuses. I am using the tools I’ve learned to move forward rather than backwards, and will be open to talking about the details in the days to come. I am confident that there will be further understanding when the facts are revealed, and feel very blessed for all of the support, especially from my friends and family.”
Leaf led WSU to a Rose Bowl appearance following the 1997 season and was the No. 2 pick in the 1998 NFL draft. After a brief professional career that ended in 2002, Leaf ran into legal trouble,
Leaf recently detailed his WSU career, specifically the 1997 season, in his recent book, “596 Switch,” the first of a three-part autobiographical series he’s agreed to write through Crimson Oak Publishing in Pullman. He has spoken openly about his battle with prescription drug addiction, which stemmed from a series of injuries during his troubled NFL career, as well as his time in drug rehabilitation. His website says he has since “focused his efforts on speaking with college athletes about lessons learned.”
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