(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — The former head trainer for the Washington Commanders entered a deferred prosecution agreement after the Justice Department alleged he illegally gave players oxycodone and other narcotics when they were not prescribed the pills.
A deferred prosecution agreement is when a defendant admits wrongdoing but if they adhere to the terms of the agreement they will not get charged by the Justice Department.
The former trainer, Ryan Vermillion, acknowledged in federal court documents on Friday that he carried around a prescription pad belonging to a team physician and a black bag filled with narcotics.
The bag contained “pill envelopes,” according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia said that Vermillion would backfill oxycodone prescriptions and dole out pills that were not intended for specific players. The NFL has a process in place in which away teams are able to legally obtain prescription pills if one player on a visiting team needs them. The Justice Department said Vermillion discouraged players from using that program and instead take medications from the black bag.
In several instances described in court documents, Vermillion would give players oxycodone immediately after they were injured in the locker room to relieve some pain, but the DOJ says that prescription was not intended for that player.
“I have pain meds in bag if he needs something,” Vermillion texted a trainer, according to the documents, after a player was taken off the field and into the locker room.
The Justice Department says the trainer texted Vermillion about giving the player oxycodone.
“Vermillion told some Commanders physicians to write prescriptions for oxycodone for players who, in Vermillion’s judgement, he believed should receive additional oxycodone,” the DOJ said in a statement of facts.
The Justice Department says Vermillion kept a “stockpile” of oxycodone at the team facility in Ashburn, Virginia. When agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) searched the team facility, they found prescription medication in a locked cabinet and players with no record of ever having been prescribed drugs for a specific injury.
Prosecutors say this amounted to Vermillion breaking the law in distributing pills that weren’t prescribed to specific players.
Part of the agreement says that Vermillion may not do any athletic training activities, may not leave the Western District of North Carolina and must submit to a drug test and check in with his probation officer regularly.
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement the team has released Vermillion and that prosecutors had made clear that the team was a witness to a crime, and not the target itself.
“I was recently made aware that Ryan Vermillion has entered into an agreement, pursuant to which he has admitted to wrongdoing, but will not be charged with any crime so long as he satisfies certain conditions over the next 12 months. The situation is unfortunate and although it resulted in no criminal charges, it was necessary to move forward in a different direction. Ryan’s employment has been terminated,” the statement read.
He added, “I want to emphasize that the U.S. Government confirmed from the outset that it viewed the organization as a witness, and not as a subject or target of the investigation. We cooperated fully with federal investigators, and we will continue to cooperate with any supplemental League and NFLPA inquiry.”
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