Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested overnight in Carmel
Colts owner Jim Irsay will appear in court next Wednesday after police arrested him in Hamilton County Sunday night.
Irsay paid a $22,500 cash bond to get out of jail after officers arrested him in Carmel on a charge of Operating While Intoxicated. He also faces a drug possession charge after police say they found prescription pills in the car.
Late Monday afternoon, the Colts released a statement saying they fully support Irsay, but are not commenting further until formal charges have been filed.
Irsay himself tweeted, "Deepest thx to family, friends, fans, colleagues for the messages of support, thoughts and prayers. Impossible to tell u how much this means."
Irsay looked gaunt, worn out and weary after a night and half a day in the Hamilton County lock-up. He was in handcuffs around 3:00 am when Carmel Police walked him into the jail. They say the 54-year-old Colts owner failed numerous field sobriety tests.
An officer pulled him over just before midnight off 131st Street inside the upscale Village of West Clay neighborhood. According to police, Irsay was driving slowly, failed to use a turn signal and stopped in roadway. Inside his car investigators found numerous prescription pills but no corresponding pill bottles.
Irsay is preliminary charged with Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated and four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance
John Tompkins, an experienced defense attorney, describes Irsay's situation as being "in a lot of trouble. He's facing felony counts and a substantial time without a driver's license."
But Tompkins says if convicted, it's unlikely Irsay would be sent to jail.
A big issue will be whether Irsay had valid prescriptions for the medications. Police say they found "multiple prescription drugs" in pill bottles. According to police, "these Schedule IV prescription drugs were not associated with any prescription bottles found in the vehicle."
"If he does not have prescriptions for these pills, it is a significantly bigger issue. One - what's he doing with them. And two - where did they come from?" Tompkins said.
Irsay, who reportedly has a net worth of billion dollars, is free on a $22,500 bond. Irsay's initial court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 1:15pm at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
This is not the first time Jim Irsay has been linked to prescription drug addiction. He has sought treatment in the past, and admitted that he was hooked to painkillers for most of the 1990s. Irsay checked himself into a rehab clinic for 30 days in 2002.
A 2003 Eyewitness News investigation found that key NFL officials were aware of Irsay's problems - including a pattern of prescription drug abuse, overdoses and visits to rehab - as early as 1995. A former Indianapolis Police detective told WTHR about questionable prescriptions for powerful opiates written for Irsay. The doctor who wrote them, Dr. James Dickerson, lost his license and Irsay was urged to attend rehab.
The investigator, Rene Conder, said she kept NFL officials, including then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, informed of her findings.
Last October, he shot back at critics who accused him of being drunk when he gave a speech in the Colts locker room.
NFL: Irsay will face discipline
When asked for comment, NFL Communications Director Brian McCarthy responded via email, "Our comment is that he will be subject to discipline."
The Colts issued this statement:
"We are gathering information at this time regarding last night's incident involving Jim Irsay. The team will issue additional statements when the facts are sorted and we are aware of the next steps to this process. Many fans have reached out to express their concern and we appreciate their support."
The team later released another statement:
"The Club continues to fully support Mr. Irsay but must refrain from commenting further at least until formal charges have been filed."
NFL front-office arrests
Other NFL teams besides the Colts have dealt with legal issues concerning front-office executives and coaches.
Last summer, the Broncos' director of pro-personnel, and the team's director of player personnel, were both arrested on DUI charges.
Other NFL incidents in the past few months include:
A Chiefs' assistant coach arrested on a DUI charge;
The Browns owner investigated by the FBI and the IRS on potential fraud charges;
The Jets head coach caused a three-car crash after running a red light.