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Tuesday, April 23
Connell in clear as McAllister drops theft charges

By Len Pasquarelli

With restitution made, Jefferson (La.) Parish district attorney Paul Connick Jr. confirmed Tuesday that theft charges were dropped against former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Albert Connell, who was alleged to have stolen over $4,363 from teammate Deuce McAllister last season.

McAllister informed authorities two weeks ago that Connell, first suspended and then released by the Saints after the theft charges were made public, repaid him in December. McAllister apprised the district attorney that he wanted to withdraw charges against Connell.

"Because of the people involved, this probably got more publicity than other cases of a similar nature," Connick said. "But it's not unusual at all for restitution to be made in such instances, for the charges to be dropped, and for both parties to move on. That's what is going on here."

Connell told the the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday that the situation was "nonsense" and called the whole matter a prank.

Connick said his office had verified with McAllister that the money was returned to him. An NFL official said the league was awaiting verification from Jefferson Parish that charges against Connell had been dropped.

Connell, 27, was arrested in December after allegations that he had stolen $863 from McAllister's pants as they hung in the Saints tailback's locker, and $3,500 from his car in the parking lot at the team complex. Saints officials had videotape evidence of the latter of the incidents. Connell subsequently turned himself in to police.

Connell contended at the time, and has continued to claim, the incidents were merely pranks played out on a rookie. McAllister was the Saints' first-round selection in the 2001 draft.

"If it was anything serious, I don't think they would have dropped the charges," he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Me and Deuce were squared away a long time ago."

McAllister's agent, Ben Dogra of SFX Sports Group in St. Louis, told the newspaper McAllister just wanted to move forward and play football without any distractions.

"There was never a time in my conversations with him that he ever wanted to file charges against Albert Connell," Dogra said. "To him personally, he just wanted the matter to die down and focus on football. He didn't want to hurt another guy's career."

Connell signed a five-year, $14 million contract with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent last spring. Even before he was suspended four games for "conduct detrimental to the team," Connell was having problems on the field. His play was subpar and he had just 12 receptions for 191 yards.

New Orleans officially terminated his contract on Feb. 28, making him a free agent and able to sign with another team.

Connell told the Times-Picayune that he's been in touch with a few teams and is eager to get back on the field.

"I'm in the best of shape; I'm ready to go," he said. "I just wish it could have been with the Saints."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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