Johnny Manziel's lawyer sends accidental text indicating plea deal

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

An attorney handling Johnny Manziel's domestic violence case expressed doubts about the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback's ability to stay clean in a lengthy text message accidentally sent to The Associated Press, and Manziel's father told ESPN that his son is a "druggie" who "needs help."

Defense attorney Bob Hinton's text indicated that Manziel's legal team was seeking a plea deal with prosecutors but suggested that could be tricky.

"Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle," the attorney wrote.

Hinton also said in the errant text that he was given a receipt that shows Manziel might have spent more than $1,000 at a drug paraphernalia store just 15 hours after he was involved in ahit-and-run crash.

Paul Manziel, the quarterback's father, told ESPN's Josina Anderson that he wants his son to get well but that the quarterback has to do that for himself.

"He's a druggie. It's not a secret that he's a druggie," Paul Manziel said in a phone interview Friday. "I don't know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn't [sought] it yet. Hopefully he doesn't die before he comes to his senses. That's about all you can say. I don't know what else to say."

Manziel's father was asked to discuss the intervention efforts the family has made on their son's behalf over the years.

"You have no idea. And the system failed," he said. "I had him in rehab and he escaped and the doctors let him go, and that is a whole other story. So I mean I had him [in rehab] and the system failed. It didn't work.

"He has more money than me, so he can outrun me. Like I said, there are two things that are going to happen: He's either going to die, or he's going to figure out that he needs help. It's one of the two. But we've done everything that we can do. Life goes on. You can't just chase somebody that's not willing to listen. The story is not going to change. It's the same."

Manziel's father feels the family has virtually exhausted all possible ways to help their son.

"We're so far past that," he said. "That was years ago. We're so far past what everybody thinks we are past. People are ignorant. It's just a horrible story. That's all there is to it.

"I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him."

Paul Manziel said he doesn't want to talk about his son's situation any longer.

"I'm done. I'm done talking about it," he said. "I'm doing my job, and I'm going to move on. If I have to bury him, I'll bury him. That's the fact. So if not, if he calls me and needs help, I'll go get him. Until then, he's on his own. I've done everything I can do. There is nothing [else] I can do as a father. Nothing. ... It is what it is. He's a druggie, and everybody needs to accept it."

Paul Manziel was also asked to share how his wife, Michelle, feels about the matter.

"We're done. We don't have the energy to spend anymore. We're done," he said. "Life goes on. I'm not going to keep talking about it. I'm just moving on. If he needs me, I'll come get him."

As for Johnny Manziel's lawyer, Hinton wrote that he had been emailed a "heads up" receipt "which purports to reflect" that Manziel made a purchase of $1,018.77 at a Gas Pipe store at 12:03 p.m. Tuesday, less than a day after his crash.

A manager at a Gas Pipe location not far from where Manziel's crash was reported declined to discuss whether the quarterback bought anything there. A sign in the store says ID is required for purchases of more than $200.

"I don't know if the receipt is legitimate or not," Hinton responded when asked about it by the AP. "I just know that it doesn't say Johnny's name on it anywhere that I can see. It's just that somebody in that store, I guess, circulated that to the other store managers and employees saying, 'Guess who was here today and spent this amount of money.' That's all I know."

The text was sent Wednesday after the AP sought comment via text about Monday night's crash. Asked about the text, Hinton said he had meant to send it to another attorney on the case and was unaware the AP had received it instead. He insisted the contents were protected by attorney-client privilege and threatened to sue if certain details were published.

Manziel's spokeswoman, Denise Michaels, said in a statement to the AP that Hinton "has always only operated on the periphery of this case."

"Lead counsel Jim Darnell has told me from the beginning that he would never have Johnny plead guilty in this and that position has not changed," Michaels said.

The text shows that Manziel's attorneys are pushing for leniency, even as they grapple with indications he could still be struggling with substance abuse more than a year after his stay in a rehab center. The charges that the former Cleveland Browns quarterback is facing come amid heightened scrutiny of legal cases involving professional athletes following domestic violence accusations against NFL players Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.

Manziel, 23, is accused of hitting and threatening former girlfriend Colleen Crowley during a night out in January. He faces a misdemeanor assault charge that carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

As the case has played out, the 2012 Heisman winner at Texas A&M has been photographed partying in Hollywood, Las Vegas and New York in recent months, and his family has expressed concern about his well-being after he was cut by the Browns this year following two underwhelming seasons.

Hinton's text said the Gas Pipe receipt was sent to him by an attorney who is involved in a federal case accusing two people affiliated with the chain of making and selling synthetic marijuana. Michaels called the purchase "a rumor" in a statement to the AP.

"We don't know for sure whether the receipt does or doesn't represent a purchase he made since there are always unfounded stories flying around, but we all make it a policy to keep each other up to date on them," she said.

Hinton also wrote that he had met Wednesday morning with Jerry Varney, an administrative chief in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.

"He is very interested in working with us to arrive at some agreement" in the case, he wrote. A spokeswoman for the DA's office did not comment.

Dallas police said Manziel reported that his car had been struck Monday night in a hit-and-run, but Hinton said in the text that there was "conflict as to whether Johnny reported it or not." Manziel was not seriously injured.

It's unclear how close Manziel's domestic violence case is to being resolved. Similar cases usually result in deferred adjudication probation, meaning the charges are dismissed after one to two years, said David Finn, a Dallas attorney and former judge who is not associated with the Manziel case.

Finn said drug-testing conditions depend on whether the defendant has shown a pattern of substance abuse. The defendant is normally required to enroll in anger-management classes and an anti-domestic-violence program, an outcome similar to that of Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant when he faced a misdemeanor charge in 2012 over an incident in which he allegedly struck his mother with a hat.

Manziel's rise and fall has long been punctuated with headlines about his off-the-field partying. The Browns selected the player dubbed "Johnny Football" in 2014, but he struggled on the field and was dropped this year. Since the 2015 season ended, two agents have cut ties with Manziel after demanding a second trip to rehab. He also faces potential punishment from the NFL under tougher standards regarding domestic violence cases adopted in 2014 following the Rice case. However, he is not currently with a team and therefore not subject to league policies.

The allegations of domestic violence stem from a night out on Jan. 30. Crowley alleged Manziel accosted her at a Dallas hotel, a confrontation that continued downstairs to the valet station. She said he forced her into a car and that a valet disregarded her pleas for help.

The two eventually drove to where her car was parked in front of a Dallas bar, she said in an affidavit. She said Manziel got into the driver's seat and began to drive. Crowley said Manziel stopped when she tried to jump out of the car but that he then dragged her back inside and hit her.

The statement said Crowley was hit so hard that her eardrum was ruptured. Crowley's medical records were provided to police.

Manziel was indicted by a grand jury in April. He was booked and went before a judge last month and told not to have any contact whatsoever with Crowley. He also had to sign an affidavit confirming he doesn't own any firearms and that there aren't any firearms where he lives.

The NFL has said it is looking into the incident and Manziel could face discipline under the league's personal-conduct policy. Manziel has said he will work to return to the NFL in 2016, but no team has shown interest in signing him.

Josina Anderson covers the NFL for ESPN. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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