New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung is facing a felony cocaine charge after police allegedly found the drug at his million-dollar home near Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire earlier this summer, authorities said Thursday.
A grand jury indicted Chung, 32, on Aug. 8 for possession of a controlled drug, which stemmed from a June 25 visit by police to Chung’s home in Meredith, N.H., according to the Belknap County attorney’s office. No one else was charged.
Chung’s arraignment is set for Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. The indictment was first reported by the Laconia Daily Sun.
The Patriots issued a statement saying they are aware of the situation with Chung but would not be commenting while “judicial proceedings take place.”
In a statement Thursday, Belknap County Attorney Andrew B. Livernois said Meredith police officers responded to Chung’s residence on June 25 “on a call for service.”
“During the course of that call, police obtained the evidence which has led to the current charges being filed,” he said.
Chung was not arrested at that time, and following a police investigation, information was referred to the county attorney’s office, which made the decision to indict Chung “based upon its determination that there was probable cause to believe that” he had committed a crime, Livernois said.
Keith Cormier, a prosecutor with the county attorney’s office, said Thursday an incident report regarding the allegation Chung faces was not being released at this time.
“It is an active investigation,” he said in a brief telephone interview.
Chung bought the four-bedroom Colonial on a 1.25-acre parcel in May 2018 for $1.1 million, according to property records.
A Patriots second-round draft pick in 2009, Chung has developed into one of their most versatile and important players on defense. He has started 78 of 80 games over the last five seasons, and started in all four of the Patriots’ recent Super Bowl appearances. The team restructured Chung’s contract in April to give him a pay raise from $2.4 million to $6 million for the coming season. He is under contract through the 2021 season.
Chung was not on the sidelines for Thursday night’s preseason game against Carolina at Gillette Stadium. He has not played in any preseason games this month as he returns from offseason shoulder surgery, but he was expected to be ready for the Patriots’ regular season opener against the Steelers on Sept. 8.
Asked if Chung did not play because of injury or his legal troubles, coach Bill Belichick said, “Pat hasn’t played all season.”
Asked about Chung’s indictment, Belichick said, “I think we’ve released a statement on that.’’
Chung’s agent did not respond to a text message and an e-mail seeking comment.
Statement from the New England Patriots:— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 22, 2019
We are aware of the reports regarding Patrick Chung. We will not be commenting while his judicial proceedings take place.
The incident does not fall under the NFL’s personal conduct policy; instead, Chung faces potential punishment from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell under the league’s substance abuse policy, which was jointly negotiated by the NFL owners and NFL Players Association. But Chung will likely avoid punishment during the 2019 season.
Clause 2.3 of the substance abuse policy states that punishment does not take place until a player is found guilty in court or admits wrongdoing. Per court documents, jury selection is not scheduled to take place until March, and the target date for a trial is May.
The substance abuse policy states that a first offense for a drug conviction or admitted drug possession is a suspension without pay for up to four games. But Goodell has the authority to reduce or increase the punishment based on circumstances, including taking a player’s treatment history into account.
“We will monitor developments in the law enforcement matter,” an NFL spokesman said.
It is unclear whether Chung has ever been in the NFL’s substance abuse program, but he has never been fined or suspended in his previous 10 seasons.
Chung’s most recent tweet came on Aug. 10, when he wrote simply, “Protect your brain playa.”
It’s not uncommon for NFL players to face drug-related allegations, and the Patriots are no exception.
Last year, Duron Harmon was detained by authorities in Costa Rica when he tried to enter the country with marijuana. He was not disciplined by the NFL.
In 2016, during a playoff bye week, defensive end Chandler Jones had a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana, leading to his admittance to Norwood Hospital.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon, who had been suspended from the NFL for violations of the league’s substance abuse policies, was conditionally reinstated by Goodell last week.