A lawyer who notified then-OSU football coach Jim Tressel about possible NCAA rules violations by players could find himself out of a job, too.
Christopher Cicero testified Monday before a three-member disciplinary panel at the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court's Disciplinary Counsel has alleged that Cicero violated attorney-client privilege by revealing information from interviews with a potential client - Edward Rife, the tattoo parlor owner central to the OSU scandal.
Rife claims he met twice with Cicero to discuss the possibility of the attorney representing him in his drug case. If so, any information divulged would be private. Cicero says he only met with Rife once, to find out whether his client, Rife's business partner, was involved in drug dealing or memorabilia sales.
Unless the panel believes Cicero, the attorney could be disbarred or be suspended from practicing law.
After the time the scandal became public last December, Cicero was persona non grata among many OSU fans. For some, that opinion intensified following Tressel's departure.
But so far, Cicero seems to be the least culpable party in this affair. The disciplinary panel may have to decide whom to believe: the attorney or Rife, who has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering.
The scandal involving memorabilia sales and discounted tattoos was a violation of NCAA rules, not a felony. Unless Cicero was bound by attorney-client privilege, he was obligated to report what he had found to Tressel, not police. And he did notify the coach.
We hope that, had Cicero not uncovered evidence of memorabilia sales by players, he still would have contacted Tressel and warned him to have his players steer clear of Rife.