Monday, May 3, 2010

Saints Nation: Vicodin Theft Accusation Spells Trouble for Saints

So much for that squeaky clean reputation the Saints' front office, staff and players have enjoyed during the Sean Payton era. By now, most of you are familiar with the suit currently facing the Saints, which alleges that two senior staff members (rumored to be assistant coach Joe Vitt and head coach Sean Payton) stole the pain killing pill Vicodin from team supplies without a prescription. The suit claims Mickey Loomis was aware of the issue and ordered that it essentially be ignored, and it also claims to have video evidence of Joe Vitt stealing said medication.

It seems like most Saints fans believe this is nothing more than a greedy and desperate disgruntled former employee looking for a cash grab. Part of me agrees with this because it's clear that money is the main motivating factor in this man coming forward and exposing this story to the public, true or untrue. That said, this man Geoff Santini who is accusing the organization of these unlawful crimes is a retired FBI special agent. He's obviously a threat in that he knows how to collect evidence, and he's likely not reckless or stupid in making any serious claims. I believe the bottom line is that pills were stolen from the team's stash. If you steal medication you do not have a prescription for, that is a felony. I don't think Santini would fabricate that story out of thin air, so I do believe there's at least partial truth in his claims. I don't doubt for one second, though, that he may have sensationalized his story in order to go for the jugular.

None of us should be that worried about this particular case because the only thing that stands to happen is an exchange of money. Santini still has to prove beyond reasonable doubt facing Saints' lawyers in a court of law that his claims are true. That will be no easy feat, but if he does he would be awarded a nice chunk of change. I do think there's a decent chance this may get settled outside of court because the Saints will want this to go away. What we should be worried about is the state charges that could follow this case, and the possible jail time Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, Joe Vitt and others could face. If Vitt and Payton both really stole Vicodin, they're facing a possible felony charge. Loomis is facing the possible cover up of a felony, based on the charges.  This could cause a serious distraction to both the team and the players. Depending on how far this goes it could weigh heavily on the coaching staff's mind smack dab in the heart of the regular season. We know how long these kind of proceedings can drag out, and without resolution something of this nature can stay in the back of someone's mind for a long time. Sadly I think this claim is just the beginning of what will be a long and taxing process to uncover the truth.

Whether some or all of the Saints' staff are innocent from these charges, they'll have to worry about proving it over the course of a long period of time. The effects could ultimately hinder the team's performance, and as fans that is what we should be worried about the most. On top of that, we're looking at a possible public black eye for the organization on a national scale, and maybe jail time down the road for some of the team's biggest masterminds. That's all worse case scenario, but we shouldn't be naive about the fact that these charges are very serious, and there's probably no easy way out of this.