Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson pleaded guilty today to a felony charge in Kenton County (KY) circuit court. The formal charge was amended to "prohibited acts with a controlled substance" and carries with it a sentence of anywhere from one to five years in prison. For a variety of reasons, however, Simpson's attorney was able to negotiate a 60 day jail sentence and probation for the rest of the sentence.
Simpson accepted a package of about two pounds of marijuana at his Northern Kentucky home back in September. Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said that initial reports from a publication in California, where the package originated, that the package contained over eight pounds of marijuana were inaccurate.
“In fact, the comments out of California compromised the investigation and could have jeopardized officer safety,” Sanders said. “I don’t know where those people got their information but it was obviously bad. That’s why law enforcement agencies should never comment on a case that’s not their own.”
Because the investigation was compromised, Sanders also said that influenced the charge brought against Simpson. He was quick to add, however, that Simpson was not receiving any special consideration because of his status as a professional football player.
For Simpson, the timing of this incident couldn't be worse. With the departure of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, Simpson was open to a starting opportunity for the first time in his professional career. While he missed no games because of the legal situation, the cloud of the investigation hung over Simpson's entire season.
Now Simpson enters the off season an unrestricted free agent. Instead of being a rising star that the Bengals might prioritize, Simpson now falls into that sketchy area given the team's past with lawbreakers. As Bengals 101 wrote yesterday, the Bengals are not in a favorable PR position to take any more chances on players with legal problems.
Whether or not the situation will affect his standing with other teams in the league remains to be seen. Simpson will most likely have the opportunity to shop his services on the open market and sentencing next week will likely not prohibit him from playing in 2012.
Ironically, Adam "PacMan" Jones, the Bengals beleaguered cornerback, said via Twitter this morning that his probation had ended. Jones is also a free agent and has been trying to reconstruct his tarnished image in the league.
For Cincinnati, more favorable options exist at both wide receiver and cornerback than Simpson and Jones.
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