Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Running Back Waives Pot Hearing

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Running Back Waives Pot Hearing

Article excerpt

Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell waived a preliminary hearing today on charges of marijuana possession and driving under the influence.

His attorney, Robert Del Greco, said he hopes Bell, 22, will be admitted to the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes, where charges can be dismissed and expunged if the defendant fulfills certain requirements.

"For Le'Veon's part, I can tell you that he recognizes that he's made a mistake," Del Greco told reporters outside the West View district court office. "I think he understands painfully that he will suffer legal consequences and that there will be an administrative sanction [from the National Football League] in all probability."

On Aug. 20, a Ross motorcycle police officer smelled marijuana coming from a black Camaro registered to Bell and stopped the car in the parking lot of Pool City, 4700 McKnight Road.

A bag of about 20 grams of marijuana was found in the car, Ross Detective Brian Kohlhepp said then, adding that all three people in the car - including 27-year-old Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount - admitted to possessing it.

Under the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, Commissioner Roger Goodell can impose up to a four-game suspension for players charged with illegal use or possession of drugs other than alcohol. In similar cases, Goodell has suspended players for one game and such action did not come until the season after they were charged.

Del Greco said he wasn't sure if the NFL would equate admission into the ARD program to a conviction.

"My suspicion is that they'll either sanction the underlying conduct or treat admission into a diversionary program as tantamount to a conviction," he said.

In Pennsylvania, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana is considered to be for personal use, not distribution, and is a misdemeanor.

West View District Judge Richard Opiela today also ordered Bell to undergo an on-site drug and alcohol assessment by a Gateway Rehabilitation Center employee, which Del Greco said the judge requires of every such defendant in his court.

Also today, Opiela informed Bell of $153 in outstanding court fees that his attorney said was in relation to a April parking violation from Oakdale police. Bell paid the sum this morning, his attorney said.

Bell did not comment.

A preliminary hearing for Blount is scheduled for Dec. 10.

-- Molly Born, The Pittsburgh Press

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