The man whose purchases of Ohio State memorabilia from and discounted tattoos given to football players led to multi-game suspension for five Buckeyes has been charged in federal court, the Associated Press is reporting.
Edward Rife, the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 200 pounds of marijuana, and one count of money laundering, the documents showed. Rife could face up to 20 years in prison.
It was the federal investigation into Rife that ultimately brought the potential of NCAA violations to the attention of head coach Jim Tressel. Rife’s attorney, however, says the drug and money laundering charges are in no way connected to the five players suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season.
“His criminal allegations and what are going on in federal court really has little or nothing to do with the Ohio State football players,” attorney Stephen Palmer said. “He’s dealing with a very troubling time anyway and to have the heat from the Ohio State situation come down on him has been terrible. …
“He didn’t want any harm to come on any players or the university or the program or coach Tressel or anyone. If he’s responsible for anything, it’s being a quality Ohio State fan.”
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas were all found by the NCAA to have sold OSU-themed items — Big Ten title rings, gold pants for beating Michigan, etc. — and accepted discounts on tattoos from Rife’s parlor not available to the general public.
Tressel learned of the potential issues in April of 2010 from a lawyer and former OSU football player, but covered up his knowledge of the issue for more than nine months. The head coach was ultimately slapped with a five-game suspension and $250,000 fine for failing to disclose the information. He will appear before the NCAA in August, and could be subject to further sanctions.