Irsay formally charged with two misdemeanors

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Prosecutors charged Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay with two misdemeanor counts Friday stemming from his intoxicated driving arrest near his home in March.

Hamilton County prosecutors said Irsay was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance or its metabolite in the body, which carry maximum penalties of 60 days in jail and $500 fines for each count. A probable cause affidavit said Irsay was driving under the influence of oxycodone and/or hydrocodone, both powerful painkillers.

Irsay was arrested near his home at about 3 a.m. on March 16 with $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his vehicle. Police said Irsay denied being drunk and told an officer he had taken several prescription medications during the day. A police report said the 54-year-old billionaire was so disoriented that officers made him sit on the hood of a patrol car to keep him from falling, and that he had trouble reciting the alphabet.

Police had filed four preliminary felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, charges that each carried possible sentences of six months to three years in prison. Prosecutors took weeks before deciding to file the misdemeanor charges instead.

The Indianapolis law office representing Irsay, Voyles, Zahn & Paul, released a statement thanking the prosecutor's office for its professionalism in handing the investigation and "for devoting the necessary care and attention to determine the facts in this matter did not warrant the filing of felony charges relative to Mr. Irsay's prescription medications."

Colts spokesman Avis Roper declined immediate comment. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is still reviewing the matter.

"The NFL's Personal Conduct Policy applies to all league personnel and holds all of us accountable. We are reviewing the matter and will take appropriate action in accordance with the policy," he said in an email.

There are few examples of the league punishing an owner like Irsay. Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand was suspended for 30 days and fined $100,000 in 2010 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy following his guilty plea to driving while impaired.

The police report said Irsay stumbled out of his SUV and failed field sobriety tests. After Irsay refused a blood draw, a judge approved a search warrant to draw his blood. Refusing the blood test means Irsay's driver's license will be automatically suspended for one year.

An initial hearing is scheduled for June 19. Irsay was supposed to have an initial hearing on March 25, but that hearing was postponed because he had been admitted to an out-of-state medical facility for inpatient treatment, the prosecutor's office said. His family said at the time he was undergoing treatment ""to help him meet his challenges head-on."

Irsay acknowledged in 2002 that he had become dependent on painkillers after several years of orthopedic operations but said he had overcome the problem.

Irsay resumed his duties with the Colts at the NFL draft earlier this month and earlier this week he made the unsuccessful personal pitch to his fellow owners on behalf of Indianapolis' bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl.

Irsay became the Colts owner in 1997 after the death of his father, Robert Irsay, and a lengthy legal battle with his father's second wife. Forbes magazine has estimated Irsay's net worth at $1.6 billion. He has helped build the Colts into a top NFL team over the past decade behind quarterback Peyton Manning, now with Denver, and was a key player in the drive to bring the Super Bowl to Indianapolis two years ago.

He is working with some success to rebuild the team behind young quarterback Andrew Luck while coping with a divorce that follows a decade-long separation from his wife of 33 years.


  • Not just the rich...
    Was supposed to be Not just the rich. Sorry for the typo.
  • No just the rich...
    It is not only the rich who get a slap on the wrist. I know a person who "needs" the book thrown at them. He has multiple DUI, DWI and drug charges and has only ever gotten a slap on the wrist. He has a public defender, he's not rich. Has been to rehab 2 or 3 times. He has a daughter that he isn't supporting. He has left the state and has warrants in 2 counties here in Indiana. They won't go get him because it is too expensive. Drug offenses are being downgraded regularly because jails are overcrowded. So, even if a rich person gets his charges downgraded, it is par for the course, especially for a first time offense.
  • Irsay Follow-up
    Have I missed it, but I do not recall seeing any follow-up stories by the media about who was supplying Irsay with his drugs. Is something like that no longer of importance to the media in Indy?
  • Imagine
    I am trying to imagine a world where all addicts that are inflicted with this terrible disease are treated with the same reverence and dignity regardless if they are a middle class salesman, a blue collar factory worker or a homeless person. Nope, can't imagine it!
  • Being rich doesn't make you infallible
    Thanks to Liz an Stuart for taking the high road, Mr. Irsay is an addict...yes, Mr. Irsay's ability to pay allowed him to hire the best most connected lawyer, and may have spared him a felony charge (those who assume this situation is rigged don't really know for sure, it is speculation)...but it is certain that he will die if he doesn't get help for his addiction...if you feel comfortable scoffing at Mr. Irsay's illness, more power to you, but as someone who has seen close friends succumb to addiction to pain killers (in both cases after back surgery that did not relieve severe pain), rest assured you are not immune...as for Mr. Irsay, he still has other issues...as I recall someone overdosed and died at his home, and that is likely still being investigated...that may yet provide consequences to Mr. Irsay, and those looking for a pound of flesh would then be satisfied I suppose...seems like a really sad situation to me...being rich doesn't make you happy or immune to problems, and Irsay is definitely an example of that...as Logan Piersall Smith once said, "It is the wretchedness of being rich that you have to live with rich people." Still, I suppose we'd all like to try...
  • Who's writing the RX?
    So is it not a felony because Irsay had been prescribed these drugs? If that's the case, then whatever doctor is writing these prescriptions needs to be investigated. And if it's not the case, then Hamilton County prosecutors should be ashamed of themselves.
  • BS
    I will no longer support the colts as long as irsay is in the picture.Funny how when your rich indiana laws change for you.The prosecutors office should be put under investigation.
    • Anyone else
      A slap on the wrist. Anyone else would have had the book thrown at them!! Money talks and that jerk walks.
      • For Mr. Irsay
        Instead of reading the negative comments on here, please make a decision to get some help--this time decide you are ready for it. You dodged a bomb because you are wealthy and your hired gun was able to use his relationships to allow you to avoid a felony indictment. Others would not be so fortunate. So, take this goodwill and make a difference in your life. Show your children you can be sober.
      • Easy there, Italiano
        Wow, Italiano, easy does it... Irsay is a disgrace to the human race?? Get a grip, the guy is dealing with addiction, which is a disease. He did get a sweet deal for the lease at LOS, but that did NOT make him a billionaire...
      • bout time
        Lock him up and throw away the key. He is a disgrace to the sport, the city and the human race. And to think our tax dollars made him the billionaire he is. Sad

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