Attorney says Steelers’ Bell will waive preliminary marijuana hearing
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will waive his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday on marijuana possession and driving under the influence charges, his attorney told The Associated Press.
Bell, 22, and fellow Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount, were arrested Aug. 20 after a motorcycle officer in Ross Township, outside Pittsburgh, smelled marijuana coming from a vehicle the men were in with a female friend.
Police contend the players acknowledged buying and smoking some of the pot, though Bell told police he wasn’t high at the time of the 1:30 p.m. traffic stop.
Defense attorney Robert Del Greco told The Associated Press that Bell will waive Wednesday’s hearing. That means they acknowledge police have enough evidence for the charges to go to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, where Bell must either plead to all or some of the charges or stand trial.
Blount’s attorney, Casey White, has postponed Blount’s preliminary hearing on a marijuana possession charge until Dec. 10. White didn’t immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
If Bell is convicted of the DUI charge he would face a two-game suspension under the National Football League’s new drug policy, which was agreed upon last month. It was not immediately clear whether Bell would face any additional sanctions by the league or the team if he’s convicted of the marijuana charge.
The Steelers chose not to suspend either player when they were arrested the day before an exhibition game in Philadelphia. Both played in that game and in every game since.
Bell is the league’s second-leading rusher with 542 yards in six games, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Blount has 37 carries for 212 yards on the season.
According to a criminal complaint, Bell initially denied having any marijuana in the vehicle before the officer asked Bell, whose "eyes were red and glassy," and the others whether they had smoked pot that day.
"It was about a minute ago," Bell replied.
When the officer asked what he meant, Bell said, "We smoked within the last two hours," and shortly thereafter all three occupants told the officer "they just picked up the marijuana and that they each pitched in to buy it."
Advised that he would be charged with driving under the influence, Bell said, "I didn’t know that you could get a DUI for being high. I smoked two hours ago. I am not high anymore. I am perfectly fine," the complaint said.
The officer said Bell did not appear capable of safely operating the vehicle, so he had him taken to the hospital for a blood test. The suspected marijuana and Bell’s blood were to be submitted to the Allegheny County crime lab. The results of that test were not immediately available.
Police said they seized about 20 grams — or three-fourths of an ounce — of marijuana in a plastic bag found in the car’s console.