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Report: Feds weighing big fine against Saints in Vicodin case

By Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com

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Assistant coach Joe Vitt reportedly entered a pre-trial diversion program in the Vicodin case. (USATSI)

Federal authorities are considering imposing a significant fine against the Saints for their handling of prescription drugs in 2009, the Washington Post reports.

The paper said a DEA investigation is now in the hands of the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans and that authorities are “weighing a hefty fine against the Saints for violating laws governing the proper storage, control and dispensing of prescription drugs.”

This all stems from a civil suit filed by former Saints security director Geoffrey Santini, who claimed about 130 Vicodin pills went missing in early 2009. Santini installed a hidden camera and got videos of then-linebackers coach Joe Vitt unlocking the prescription drug locker and removing handfuls of the painkillers.

The suit, eventually settled through arbitration, claimed general manager Mickey Loomis asked Santini to find out who was stealing Vicodin, then tried to cover up evidence of the theft. A Saints spokesman denied that allegation at the time.

Vitt entered a pre-trial diversion program similar to probation for first-time offenders, according to the Post. He served as interim head coach last year during Sean Payton's suspension and is now assistant head coach and linebackers coach.

The DEA investigation was revealed in 2010 by the Associated Press.

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported the investigation focused not on individuals but on "the lack of organizational control and oversight," and that the DEA "believes it has amassed strong evidence in its investigation and that significant penalties are in order."

The Post, which is doing a series on prescription drug use and abuse in the NFL, reported DEA investigators “unearthed a number of violations with the Saints' operation, according to people familiar with the situation, and worked with the team to bring the organization into better compliance.”

The paper said most teams now use a third-party company registered with the DEA to deliver prescription drugs and maintain detailed logs.

 
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