Edward A. Rife – the owner of Fine Line Ink Tattoos, the tattoo parlor caught up in the Ohio State football scandal – pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and one count of money laundering.
The plea agreement requires Rife, 31, of Westerville, Ohio, to pay $50,000, which is equal to the amount he acquired from his drug trafficking activities. Rife will be sentenced at a date yet to be determined.
Court documents say Rife occasionally used Fine Line Ink Tattoos to launder his narcotics proceeds. He also purchased cars and real estate in the names of others to hide his participation in the trade of drugs.
Rife began distributing marijuana as early as 2008, and in 2009, was receiving up to 500 pounds of marijuana at a time, according to court documents. Investigators said Rife distributed between 400 kilograms (881 pounds) and 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) between 2008 and April 1, 2010, when law enforcement executed a federal search warrant on Rife’s Westerville residence.
Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana is punishable by between five years and 40 years in prison. Money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Rife will be able to keep his OSU memorabilia, as federal investigators were unable to determine if it was purchased with money obtained from the sale of drugs.
Attorneys on both sides of the case said no OSU football players were involved in the trade of drugs.
The university was not implicated in any of the charges as the sale of memorabilia is not against the law, though it is against NCAA rules. The NCAA is currently investigating the school.
On Dec. 23, 2010, the NCAA suspended former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas for five games for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits from Rife. Linebacker Jordan Whiting also received a one-game ban.
The Lantern reported on May 26 that former OSU wide receiver Ray Small had been involved with trading memorabilia for money. A subsequent Sports Illustrated report stated that such trading had been happening as far back as 2002.
Head football coach Jim Tressel resigned on May 30 and Luke Fickell was named interim head coach for the entire 2011 season. On June 7, Pryor announced that he was leaving the university and would forego his senior season to pursue a professional career.