Ex-Charger QB Ryan Leaf Pleads Guilty

Leaf was arrested twice in four days on charges of burglary and drug possession

Tuesday, May 8, 2012  |  Updated 3:29 PM PDT
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After former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf  pleaded guilty to drug and burglary charges in Montana Tuesday the judge said he believed there was "no question" the former San Diego Charger needs rehab.

Leaf admitted to one count each of felony burglary and drug possession for breaking into homes to steal prescription painkillers.

Leaf was accused of entering an acquaintance's home to steal oxycodone on March 29. He was arrested the next day and released after posting bail.

Authorities say he broke into another home and stole hydrocodone two days later.

Leaf initially faced a possible prison sentence of up to 50 years on all four charges if convicted.

The plea agreement recommends that Leaf serve nine months in a drug treatment program followed by a five-year suspended sentence.

"I'm very much looking forward to the opportunity presented," Leaf told the judge. "An intensive nine-month rehab facility is presently needed."

It was one of the few statements Leaf made in the hearing under questioning by his attorney, Kenneth Olson.

Olson said that recommendation will include a nine-month program at the Nexus Treatment Center in Lewistown, a center affiliated with the DOC, where Leaf would be locked down and unable to leave.

That would be followed by time in a pre-release program in which Leaf's movements would be restricted.

The agreement recommends a separate five-year sentence for the possession charge, but all of it would be suspended, Olson said.

District Judge Kenneth Neill is not bound by the sentencing recommendation, but indicated he may look favorably on it.

"There is no question he needs treatment," Neill said.

Olson said he and County Attorney John Parker also will recommend that the sentence run together with whatever sentence Leaf is given for a probation violation in Texas.

A prosecutor there, James Farren, filed to revoke the former quarterback's 10-year probation from a 2010 plea deal. Leaf was charged with stealing prescription pain medicine from a player's home while he was a coach at West Texas A&M. An investigation also found he obtained nearly 1,000 pain pills from area pharmacies in an eight-month span.

Olson said he has received no sentencing commitment from Texas prosecutors, but he hopes to have one when Leaf goes to Texas to face the probation violation accusation.

"We all agree that Ryan needs treatment. He needs that more than he needs to go to prison," Olson said.

Farren said if the Montana judge approves the deal there, Leaf could return to Texas for a hearing to revoke his probation, either before or after the treatment program. He said he would like Leaf back in Texas as soon as is feasible to face "extensive" prison time that Farren will recommend to a judge in Amarillo.

Leaf asked for a reduction in bail -- $76,000 in Montana and $50,000 in Texas -- so that he can spend time with his family and get his affairs in order before sentencing. He told the judge that he was not a flight risk.

Parker said Leaf is "a man in the grip of a very powerful addiction" and it would be a mistake to reduce his bail before he begins treatment in a secure facility.

Neill denied the request to reduce bail.

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