Sean Payton Denies Lawsuit's Claim He Stole, Abused Painkillers
Santini's lawsuit contended that two "senior staff members" were responsible for the theft of 130 Vicodin pills over a four-month period in 2009. The lawsuit claims that Saints GM Mickey Loomis told Santini to "keep all of this confidential" and "let it go."
Sources told The Times-Picayune Payton and linebackers coach Joe Vitt were the two senior staffers that Santini referenced.
Payton dismissed the allegations, which have now drawn the attention of federal authorities.
"I have reviewed Geoff Santini's lawsuit and the unwarranted publicity it has received," Payton said in his statement. "I have never abused or stolen Vicodin or any other medication and I fully support the Saints' position in this matter as expressed by [team spokesman] Greg Bensel yesterday."
Bensel released a statement Friday, after the lawsuit became public knowledge.
"A former employee who resigned just before the 2009 regular season threatened to go public with these unfounded charges unless we agreed to pay him an exorbitant sum of money," Bensel said. "We refused, and now he has gone public. We will aggressively defend these false allegations in court."
The lawsuit contends that "Senior Staff Member B" -- Vitt, according to Times-Picayune sources -- was caught on hidden camera swiping pills from the team's drug cabinet. "Senior Staff Member A" -- reportedly Payton -- was allegedly given a large number of these pills without a medical condition requiring them.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has started its own look into the allegations.
"The DEA was referred this case and there is a pending investigation," said Special Agent Roberto Bryan Jr., a New Orleans-based spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, told the Associated Press.
If the DEA uncovers evidence that Santini's allegations are true, it could pursue charges against Payton, Vitt or the New Orleans Saints organization. It's also possible that state or local authorities become involved eventually.
The Saints will hold their rookie minicamp from May 7. If Payton does not further address the allegations before then, the topic will assuredly come up at that time.