COVINGTON, Ky. - Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson is facing a criminal charge four months after a package of marijuana was allegedly delivered to his Northern Kentucky home.
A Kenton County grand jury on Thursday indicted Simpson on one felony count of trafficking marijuana. The charge carries a prison sentence between one and five years. However, since he does not have a criminal record, Simpson could be eligible for diversion, according to the prosecutor's office.
Simpson has been under investigation after 2.5 pounds of marijuana was allegedly delivered to his home in Crestview Hills on Tuesday, Sept. 20. Authorities say Simpson's girlfriend signed for the package, which originated in Eureka, California.
The package was part of the so-called Emerald Triangle, the state's vaunted pot-growing region, and was discovered by a drug-sniffing dog in Sacramento, according to California Department of Justice spokesperson Michelle Gregory. The address label bore the name of Jason Snider, but Gregory said it's not unusual for people to use false names when sending illegal drugs through the mail.
The agents then alerted law enforcement in Kentucky who intercepted the package and monitored its delivery. Barb Schempf, a spokeswoman for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, confirmed that airport police participated in the controlled delivery, but declined further comment.
A search of Simpson's home also turned up 6 more pounds of marijuana, smoking pipes and scales, authorities said. The North Carolina native was not arrested.
"We don't believe it (the package) was for personal use," said Gregory. "We believe there's some sort of distribution or sales out of his home."
"The house was set up as a potential distribution network," said Tommy LaNier, head of the National Marijuana Initiative, a group that is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and helps coordinate marijuana enforcement operations around the United States.
"They had it all set up to receive supplies of high grade marijuana from Northern California and from there it was being distributed from that residence," he said.
The Bengals did not suspend Simpson who played in the Sept. 25 game against the San Francisco 49ers. He caught one pass for six yards.
Gregory said at the time if Kentucky authorities did not charge Simpson that California may consider charges. It's unclear if Simpson will face additional charges.
He will be arraigned in Kenton County on Jan. 30.
Beside legal issues, Simpson may also have to find work elsewhere next season. He becomes an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins March 13.
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