Theft claim draws DEA to Saints Satele signs free-agent contract with the Jets
NEW ORLEANS — Federal authorities are looking into allegations made in a civil lawsuit accusing the New Orleans 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.
WR SWEED INJURED
Steelers wide receiver Limas Sweed injured his left Achilles tendon during the final day of a three-day minicamp, and coach Mike Tomlin says the injury could be serious.
Sweed was hurt during a routine passing drill yesterday and was taken off the Steelers' indoor practice field on a cart. He later left the team's practice facility on crutches.
If the Achilles is ruptured, Sweed, who was a second-round draft pick from Texas in 2008, likely would miss the season.
BACKUP QB WANTED
The Chicago Bears know who their starting quarterback is. The question remains: Who'll be Jay Cutler's backup?
With untested veterans Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez on the roster, the Bears got a good look at sixth-round draft pick Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan during rookie minicamp this weekend. Now they'll need to decide whether these players can be adequate or if a veteran needs to be signed.
Hanie has been with the team for two seasons, but has thrown only seven NFL passes. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz said he thinks Hanie will be a good player.
If the Bears decide the inexperience factor is too great, former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is still a free agent and ran Martz's offense in St. Louis.
There wasn't a question that defensive back Lawyer Milloy was going to play somewhere in 2010, even after spending last year in a humbling reserve role for the Seattle Seahawks.
At age 36, Milloy still believes he can contribute after 15 NFL seasons.
Lost in the news of all the moves Seattle made in the draft, the Seahawks very quietly brought Milloy back this week. He's reunited with head coach Pete Carroll, who coached Milloy for three seasons in New England early in his career.
While Milloy says he's back with Seattle because he'll have a chance to play, he also knows that part of his job is mentoring some of the Seahawks young defensive backs, including first-round draft pick Earl Thomas.
AND WHAT'S MORE ...
Bob Karmelowicz, a football coach with three-plus decades of experience, died Saturday. He was 60. The Detroit Lions, who employed Karmelowicz as defensive line coach last year, announced yesterday he died because of an illness.