November 2, 2007
Judge to the Reids: `This is a Family in Crisis’
PHILADELPHIA _ A Montgomery County judge who sentenced two sons of Eagles coach Andy Reid to jail on Thursday, described the Reid house as a "drug emporium" and directly rebuked both parents, saying, "I have some real difficulty with the structure in which these two boys live."
The coach and his wife, Tammy, sat showing little emotion as Judge Steven T. O'Neill sentenced Garrett and Britt Reid to jail in a session that spanned six hours and capped months of drama for the family and, by extension, the Eagles organization.
O'Neill was unsparing in his comments as he called the Reid brothers "drug addicts" and said the doctors the family hired to treat their sons prescribed drugs that helped create the addictions.
"It sounds like a drug emporium there with drugs all around and you're an addict," O'Neill said to Garrett Reid. "This is a family in crisis," he added.
O'Neill's harsh criticism of the Reid family was leavened with his acknowledgment that Andy and Tammy Reid were "loving parents" who had repeatedly sent their sons to drug-treatment programs.
But as the daylong sentencing hearing wore on, it became clear that their best efforts had failed.
Garrett Reid, 24, said he had struggled with drugs since he was 18 and voiced despair.
"I'm at the point in my life where I have already made the decision that I don't want to die doing drugs," he said.
"I don't want to be that kid who was the son of the head coach of the Eagles who was spoiled and on drugs and OD'd and just faded into oblivion," he said in court.
Over the course of the sorry and often sordid saga of the Reid brothers _ from their initial arrests in January through their subsequent brushes with the law _ Andy Reid has, at least publicly, stayed silently in the background, never attending his sons' many court sessions and brusquely refusing to comment when appearing before reporters.
Now, while holding the brothers ultimately responsible for their own behavior, the judge has also, in effect, placed Reid, whom many regard as the centerpiece of the Eagles $1.1 billion franchise, directly at the center of his family's legal and health problems.
Afterward, Andy and Tammy Reid left with no comment for the assembled crowd of reporters and photographers.
O'Neill sentenced Garrett Reid to two to 23 months in jail and one year of probation on charges stemming from a January traffic accident. Just before the hearing was to begin, it was disclosed in court that Garrett Reid had smuggled 89 pills into jail by hiding them in his rectum.
Britt Reid was sentenced to eight to 23 months in jail and four years of probation stemming from a road-rage incident in which he flashed a gun.
During each sentencing the judge reviewed the drugs _ some prescribed and some used illegally _ that were found on Reid's sons. They included OxyContin, morphine, Vicodin, Adderall, Prozac, Valium, cocaine, marijuana, testosterone, heroin, Trileptal and Percocet. Also, Subutex and Suboxone, which are used to treat opiate withdrawal.
That myriad collection of drugs left the judge baffled.
"I can't figure out who is prescribing all those drugs," O'Neill said, later adding, "The medical industry is just as much to blame for what happened to these two men."
He called them "dangerous narcotics. ... We live in a society where they are highly overprescribed ... so it is little wonder we are seeing them as drug addicts."
O'Neill read excerpts from a presentencing report that said Garrett Reid started using drugs and alcohol when he was 18, and started selling cocaine in 2000.
"I liked being the rich kid in that area," the report quoted Reid as saying, apparently in reference to North Philadelphia. "I could go anyplace in the `hood. They all knew who I was. I liked being a drug dealer. . . . These kids were scared of me. I was even selling to their parents."
He later started selling OxyContin and "began using," according to the report.
O'Neill said that the family had struggled with Garrett Reid's addiction for years and that he had been in inpatient drug rehab facilities in Pennsylvania, California and Florida before the Jan. 30 accident.
The judge referred to a 2006 incident in which, he said, "It sounds like your father said, `You get clean or get out.' "
In February, Garrett Reid, accompanied by his father, who took a leave of absence from the Eagles, went to a rehab facility in Florida.
Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo said Reid's past included a 2002 arrest in Utah for possession of marijuana, a shoplifting arrest in Montgomery County, and numerous traffic violations. He and his brother recently attended Montgomery County Community College.
Thursday's charges dated to Jan. 30, when Garrett Reid ran a red light in Plymouth Township and his vehicle plowed into a car, seriously injuring Louise Hartmann, 55, of Mount Carmel, Pa. He told police he had used heroin earlier in the day.
Hartman did not appear in court but issued a statement through her attorney in which she said she "continues to hope and pray" for Garrett Reid's recovery.
On that same day in January, Britt Reid, 22, waved a handgun at another motorist in an unrelated road-rage incident. A search turned up drugs and drug paraphernalia in his truck.
The motorist, Larry David Johnson, testified Thursday that the incident "drastically changed my life ... I didn't know if I was going to see my newborn son."
Britt Reid injured his back in high school and was prescribed the painkillers to which he eventually became addicted.
O'Neill left open the door for both Reids to apply to be paroled early into a special drug treatment court. If accepted, they would be closely supervised and required to undergo regular drug testing.
"It is not a program you can take lightly," O'Neill told Britt Reid. "It gives someone like you a chance to save your life. It is hard, not like probation."
O'Neill said the program could last two years.
The two Reids have been in and out of jail in recent months.
Britt Reid had pleaded guilty and was free on bail when he was spotted driving erratically in a Plymouth Township parking lot and failed a field sobriety test.
On Aug. 24, O'Neill revoked Britt Reid's bail and sent him to the Montgomery County jail.
Last month, Garrett Reid was returned to jail after missing one drug test and then flunking another.
On Thursday, the Eagles practiced for Sunday's game with archrivals the Dallas Cowboys.
And for the first time in his nine years as coach, Andy Reid was not there.
"He felt it was an important day to be present with his kids," Eagles president Joe Banner said. "We support that."
(c) 2007, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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