Prince George's County law enforcement officers seeking to arrest Brian Lee Tribble, who was indicted Friday on drug charges, have been unable to locate the 24-year-old friend of basketball star Len Bias.
Three teams of deputy sheriffs with an arrest warrant for Tribble began searching for him after a county grand jury returned a sealed, eight-count indictment early Friday afternoon against Tribble and two University of Maryland basketball players, Terry Long and David Gregg, sources said. The three were with Bias when he died early on June 19 from cocaine intoxication.
Prince George's County Sheriff James Aluisi, who declined to identify the person named in the warrant, said yesterday that deputies attempting to serve the warrant have staked out addresses in the county and in Northeast Washington. At the time of Bias' death June 19, Tribble was living in an apartment on Cherry Hill Road in College Park. His parents live on Vista Street in Northeast Washington.
Aluisi said the person being sought was last seen at his parents' house on Thursday afternoon but had not been seen since Friday.
The sheriff said that law enforcement officials are preparing an unlawful-flight warrant that will be forwarded to the FBI "in the event that the individual has left the area." The warrant would mean that Tribble was regarded as a fugitive who could be arrested by law enforcement officials in other jurisdictions.
No arrest warrants were issued for Long and Gregg, teammates and dorm mates of Bias. A source close to the investigation said Long and Gregg would turn themselves in this week.
William Cahill Jr., Tribble's attorney, said yesterday that he last spoke to Tribble about a week ago. "If I don't hear from him, I'll find him on Monday," Cahill said, adding that he "certainly" will encourage Tribble to turn himself in.
Tribble was indicted on four drug charges: one count each of possession of cocaine and possession of PCP, a hallucinogen, and one count each of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute PCP, sources said.
Long and Gregg were indicted on two counts each: possession of cocaine and obstruction of justice, sources said.
Prince George's State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr. declined to discuss the indictment but has said in the past that the grand jury could charge with obstruction of justice anyone "who cleaned up the dormitory room to make it seem like Mr. Bias died of a heart attack."
All of the charges are felonies. Sources said the warrant for Tribble carries a $250,000 bond.
While Long and Gregg have been attending summer school on campus and living in a dormitory, Tribble's whereabouts in recent weeks have become something of a mystery.
In the weeks since Bias' death, police have said that Tribble was still in the Washington area and that county police periodically have kept his apartment and his parents' house under surveillance.
Neither Tribble, Long nor Gregg has been questioned by police. Authorities cannot compel persons to submit to questioning without an indictment or an arrest warrant.
Long and Gregg were subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury but were not called to testify. Tribble was not subpoenaed. Under Maryland law, persons who testify before a grand jury investigating a drug case are given automatic immunity from prosecution on drug charges stemming from that case.
Friends of Bias have said in recent interviews that he and Tribble had known each other for about five years. Tribble, a one-time junior varsity player at Maryland, and Bias shared a passion for cars and clothes and often played pickup basketball together. Two employes of Chapter III, a Washington nightclub, said that Bias and Tribble often visited the club together.
About a month before he died, Bias accompanied Tribble to a Volvo dealership in Alexandria where Tribble traded in a 1984 Volvo for a 1979 Mercedes-Benz, which friends said Bias often drove on campus. Bias had said that after signing a multimillion-dollar contract with the Boston Celtics, who picked him first in the college draft two days before he died, he would buy a Mercedes of his own.
In the early morning of June 19, investigators have said, Bias stopped by Tribble's fashionable apartment, which is adorned with pictures of Mercedes-Benz autos, weightlifting equipment and stylish modern furniture.
At 6:32 a.m. Tribble called the county's emergency number from Bias' suite and said that Bias was not breathing and needed help, according to a recording of the call made public this month. Tribble and player Jeff Baxter, another dorm mate of Bias, drove the 22-year-old all-America player's sports car to Leland Memorial Hospital and remained there until Bias was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m., according to teammates who were there.
Police said they found about 12 grams of "very high quality" cocaine in Bias' car the day after he died.
Staff writers Victoria Churchville and Sally Jenkins contributed to this report.