Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf is in jail again after Montana police say he burglarized a home and stole prescription pain medication for a second time in less than 72 hours.
And according to police, the incidents could be indicative of a larger pattern.
Leaf, 35, was arrested early Monday morning in his hometown of Great Falls, Mont., on drug possession, burglary and theft charges, police alleging he unlawfully entered a residence and stole three bottles of prescription pills.
He was also arrested Friday afternoon on felony counts of drug possession and burglary, along with misdemeanor theft, after he allegedly entered an acquaintance’s home without permission and stole a bottle of Oxycodone pills for which he did not have a prescription.
Great Falls Police Sgt. Chris Hickman, commander of the Central Montana Drug Task Force – which monitored Leaf for a month prior to Friday’s arrest – said police have reason to believe this has happened several times before.
Hickman said police have received three separate calls from residents in the Great Falls area who “may have had similar encounters.”
“We just don’t believe either one of these are isolated incidents,” Hickman said. “We have information that it’s been going on for near a year and a half.”
In addition to the recent charges, Leaf also faces a probation violation. He is serving a 10-year suspended sentence stemming from an April 2010 plea arrangement in Texas, where Leaf pled guilty to eight drug-related charges. The prosecutor in that case told the Associated Press he will file a motion to revoke Leaf’s probation.
Leaf is on a 72-hour hold at the Cascade County Detention Center while probation officials decide whether to allow his release on bond, according to the Great Falls Tribune. Bond has been set at $76,000, the same amount Leaf posted after his arrest Friday.
The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint Sunday from residents who reported that they came home at around 2:30 to 3 p.m. to find an unfamiliar black Dodge pickup parked in their driveway and a “tall, athletic man in nice clothes” inside their home, according to court documents obtained by The Spokesman-Review.
When confronted, the man, who police now believe to be Leaf, claimed he was looking for a certain address, then admitted he was inside the wrong home and left.
The residents later discovered that a drill and three bottles of prescription medication were missing.
After giving police a thorough description of the unwelcome man and his pickup truck, the residents identified Leaf in a photo lineup, Hickman said.
Since the complaint was similar to the alleged burglary for which Leaf was arrested on Friday, the sheriff’s office contacted Hickman, whose task force began investigating Leaf in early March.
Hickman said when officers contacted Leaf at his home before midnight on Sunday, he was wearing a windbreaker matching the description given by the complainants.
Police later found black, loafer-style shoes in Leaf’s home that also matched a description given by the complainants.
Hickman said police also seized from Leaf’s truck a Garmin GPS system, which revealed Leaf to be in the exact driveway of the home he is alleged to have burglarized around the time the alleged burglary occurred.
Upon searching Leaf’s home, police found a bottle containing 89 Hydrocodone pills inside the pocket of a bathrobe. Hickman said those pills are believed to be unrelated to the alleged burglary, and police are still uncertain of the whereabouts of the three missing bottles, that contained Hydrocodone (a schedule 2 narcotic), Lorazapam (schedule IV) and an unknown prescription. Leaf does not have a prescription for any of those drugs.
Leaf was placed under arrest for two counts of possessing dangerous drugs – one for the 89 Hydrocodone pills, and one for the three bottles reported missing by the complainants – one count of felony burglary and one of misdemeanor theft.
That brings the charges against Leaf to three counts of possessing dangerous drugs, two counts of felony burglary and two counts of misdemeanor theft, as well as a probation violation.
On Friday, police arrested Leaf after finding 28 Oxycodone pills inside a golf bag found inside his truck. They also determined Leaf had entered an acquaintance’s home in Great Falls without permission and took possession of about 15 Oxycodone pills, according to the acquaintance, which prompted the burglary and theft charges.
Hickman and the Central Montana Drug Task Force began their investigation in early March after receiving a tip from the postal service that Leaf was paying upwards of $500 for cash-on-delivery packages delivered once or twice per week.
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 pro career that ended in 2002, Leaf ran into legal trouble, and was arrested for prescription drug-related charges in Texas in 2009.
Leaf detailed his WSU career, specifically the 1997 Rose Bowl 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 he says stemmed from a series of injuries during his troubled NFL career, as well as his time in drug rehab.
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.”
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