Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Even more on the Vikings zany antics

Fred Smut…er, Smoot, and his teamates cannot make this story go away. Now the Hennepin County Shriff is looking into the allegations that the strippers were flown in from Atlanta.

Authorities are talking to Atlanta police about cruise

Local authorities have briefed Atlanta police about their investigation into reports that some of the women on board an alleged sex cruise with a group of Minnesota Vikings players may have been paid to fly here from Georgia for the party.

Boat crew members told authorities that several women who had sex with players Oct. 6 on two boats had been flown in from out of state, said two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation. Some women reportedly said they came from Atlanta, but investigators haven't confirmed that, according to an Atlanta police spokeswoman.

Sylvia Abernathy said Monday that the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the allegations, hasn't asked for her department's assistance and hasn't identified a network or organization that may have supplied women for the event.

"At this point, we've been give a heads-up by stories coming to bear national attention," she said. "Like any law enforcement agency, we would look into any allegations of this nature."

The Sheriff's Office hasn't submitted any reports to the law firm of Tallen and Baertschi, which represents agencies with jurisdiction over Lake Minnetonka and which will determine whether anyone will be charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. The firm isn't expecting any reports until next week, said attorney Paul Baertschi.

If the Vikings conduct an internal investigation of the incident, it would likely be coordinated by retired FBI agent Dag Sohlberg, recently hired as the team's new interim director of security. Milt Ahlerich, vice president of security for the NFL, said it would be up to team owner Zygi Wilf to determine what role Sohlberg will play with the team.

Sohlberg, who will travel with the team and coordinate security at the Metrodome, also will be working with Wilf to address issues surrounding the boat party, Ahlerich said.

A 'quality performer'
Sohlberg served in the Minneapolis FBI office for more than 20 years. Ahlerich said he selected him to work part time for NFL Security in Minnesota six years ago on the advice of friend and former FBI Director Louis Freeh. Sohlberg worked for the director in a small advisory group of agents.

"He said Dag was a quality performer of impeccable credentials," Ahlerich said.

Most recently, Sohlberg provided NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue with information about the Vikings new ownership "before decisions were made," he said. Sohlberg also helped investigate a case of identity theft involving running back Michael Bennett and did security work at the Pro Bowl.

After discussions with Tagliabue and Vikings officials, Ahlerich was asked by the commissioner to recommend a person to fill the team's security director job, which hadn't existed for several years. Sohlberg was on the top of his list.

Sohlberg will be an independent contractor who works for the Vikings and will no longer report to the NFL. Ahlerich, also a former FBI agent, said the move is very unusual, unlike anything he has seen in 10 years with the NFL.

Other names on the list
Also Monday, the Star Tribune spoke to three more of the 17 players whose names are on a list given to investigators and Vikings team officials by the charter boat company. Crew members identified the players as passengers on the boats. Some allegedly participated in sex acts while others apologized for the behavior of some teammates, according to a lawyer for the boat company.

Defensive end Lance Johnstone and safeties Ken Irvin and Willie Offord refused to comment on whether they were on the boat.

Others on the list who previously declined to comment are quarterback Daunte Culpepper, offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, cornerback Fred Smoot, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, tight end Jermaine Wiggins, running back Moe Williams, wide receivers Nate Burleson, Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor and Koren Robinson, cornerback Ralph Brown and safety Darren Sharper. Running back Mewelde Moore confirmed he was on the cruise but said that he didn't see any sexual activity.
(Source: Star Tribune, Oct. 18, 2005)

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