Saints’ attorney: Club won’t try lawsuit in media
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – An attorney for the New Orleans Saints said Wednesday that the team will wait until trial to respond to a former security director’s allegations that the club tried to cover up prescription Vicodin thefts at team headquarters.
The Saints won’t settle with Geoffrey Santini and won’t be publicly discussing the lawsuit that he filed against the team until it goes to court, lawyer Phil Wittman said.
“We’re in litigation with Mr. Santini and I feel we should proceed with the legal process and not make any media comments at this time,” Wittman said. “The courts don’t like it when you try your case in the papers.”
Wittman’s comments came after Santini said in an interview with Gannett Louisiana Newspapers that he regrets not going straight to Saints owner Tom Benson when he found out about missing prescription drugs at team headquarters.
Santini says he instead went to general manager Mickey Loomis, who allegedly tried to cover up the theft and improper distribution of Vicodin from the team’s prescription drug locker.
Santini wound up resigning in August because of his dispute with Loomis over how the handle the matter and on April 30 filed suit seeking damages and back pay.
“Mickey was a friend of mine,” said Santini, a retired FBI agent. “I considered him a friend, and I’ve always respected a chain of command. So I didn’t go to Tom Benson. I didn’t want to have to put Mickey in a position that he couldn’t recover from if in fact I thought I could save this.
“I did everything, believe me, that I could to stop this,” Santini said. “I tried to use everything I’ve ever learned – the hundreds of times that I’ve dealt with bringing people in behind closed doors legally and getting things worked out.”
Santini’s lawsuit says one unnamed staff member stole Vicodin while another was allowed to take an amount that far exceeded an amount appropriate for any known medical condition he had.
People familiar with the case have told The Associated Press that the staff member stealing Vicodin was linebackers coach Joe Vitt and the one who was allowed to take excessive pills was head coach Sean Payton. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the allegations.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel initially denied all allegations and said Santini was a disgruntled former employee trying to squeeze the club for money. Payton also issued a statement denying he ever stole or abused Vicodin. No one on the team has addressed the allegations directly since.
Both the theft of Vicodin, a scheduled narcotic, and any attempt to cover that up would be state and federal crimes. The Federal Drug Administration has acknowledged it is aware of the case and that an investigation is pending. Authorities in Jefferson Parish, where the civil case was filed, say they are not investigating at this time.
Santini says he has video and audio recordings to back up his claims, including recorded conversations with trainers Scottie Patton and Kevin Mangum in which they discussed being ordered by Loomis to forge entries in official prescription drug logs to cover up the Vicodin thefts.
“It broke my heart to have to put a recorder on these people – absolutely broke my heart,” Santini told the paper. “Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, I have no ill will against the Saints. I am so happy that they got to the Super Bowl and won it. I had no intention and still have no intention of hurting the New Orleans Saints, the players or other coaches.
“I was witnessing crimes, and I wasn’t going to stand for that,” Santini said. “I did everything I could to save the people that were involved, but it just didn’t go that way. Mickey didn’t let it.”