Two University of Maryland basketball players and a close friend of Len Bias were indicted on drug charges yesterday by a Prince George's County grand jury investigating Bias' death last month from cocaine intoxication, sources said.
The 23-member grand jury returned the sealed, eight-count indictment against Brian Lee Tribble, a former university student, and players Terry Long and David Gregg, who shared a dormitory suite with the 22-year-old Maryland basketball star, sources said.
All three were with Bias in his College Park dormitory suite when he collapsed about 6:30 a.m. on June 19, according to law enforcement officials.
Tribble was charged with four of the eight counts: possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute PCP, possession of cocaine and possession of PCP, sources said.
Long, the Terrapins' 22-year-old center, and Gregg, a 19-year-old forward, were charged with one count each of possession of cocaine and one each of obstruction of justice, sources said. All the charges are felonies.
Sources said three teams of sheriff's deputies carrying an arrest warrant began searching yesterday afternoon for the 24-year-old Tribble, who law enforcement officials have said supplied the drugs that killed Bias.
The warrant for Tribble carries a $250,000 bond, sources said.
No warrants were issued for Long and Gregg, sources said. The two players, who have been attending summer classes on campus and living in a campus dormitory since Bias died, were expected to turn themselves in to police officials by early next week, according to one source.
Conviction on possession with intent to distribute carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The maximum penalty for possession of cocaine and PCP is four years. Obstruction of justice carries a maxmimum penalty of three years in prison.
Alan J. Goldstein, the attorney for Long and Gregg, said that "after a trial, it is my belief that Long and Gregg will be found not guilty." William Cahill Jr., Tribble's attorney, could not be reached for comment.
University Chancellor John B. Slaughter said last night that he would meet Monday with Athletic Director Dick Dull to review the case. Another high-ranking official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the university was likely to suspend Long and Gregg from the team immediately, while allowing them to retain their scholarships, pending the final outcome of the case.
Prince George's State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr., who launched the investigation, declined to reveal what evidence was presented to the grand jury that linked Tribble, Long and Gregg to the drugs the prosecutor has said were used in the room. During five days of testimony this week, the grand jury heard dozens of witnesses, including medical examiners, doctors, police officers, teammates of Bias, and persons who were with him in the hours before he died.
Tribble, Long and Gregg have not made statements to police. Without an arrest warrant or an indictment, authorities could not compel them to come forward for questioning by police.
Long and Gregg were subpoenaed but did not testify before the grand jury. Tribble was not subpoenaed. Persons who testify before a grand jury in Maryland in connection with a drug case are immune from prosecution on drug charges stemming from that case.
University police found some evidence of drugs in a trash dumpster behind the dormitory that Bias shared with Long, Gregg and players Phil Nevin, Jeff Baxter and Keith Gatlin, according to police sources. Nevin, Baxter and Gatlin testified before the grand jury this week.
Police removed from the dumpster a glass vial containing .15 gram of cocaine, cut straws with cocaine residue, a pipe that can be used to smoke cocaine and empty bottles of malt liquor and cognac, police sources have said.
A source close to the investigation said Maryland State Police tests also revealed traces of PCP in at least one of the bottles. University police found about 12 grams of "very high quality" cocaine in Bias' car the day after his death, the source said.
Norman L. Pritchett, clerk of the Prince George's County Circuit Court, said that Judge Joseph S. Casula signed an order to keep the indictment sealed until those indicted had been contacted formally.
The grand jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning the indictment. A juror who wished to remain anonymous said the severity of the charges was fitting in light of the testimony that was heard behind closed doors this week.
"I think we did a good job," the juror said. "The people who will be charged, the guys who will be punished, should've been. If there had been more charges, we would have brought them."
A grand jury member who identified himself as Tom Madison said the grand jury's action was not influenced by Marshall, who was criticized indirectly by Bias' parents last week for revealing unsubstantiated allegations about the case, including alleged drug use by some team members.
The grand jury will reconvene Aug. 11, when it will hear testimony from university coaches and officials and widen the scope of its investigation to include possible drug use among athletes at the university. Among those who have been subpoenaed are head basketball coach Lefty Driesell. Bias' parents, James and Lonise, have also agreed to appear before the grand jury. Those who have already testified, including members of the team, may be recalled.
Records from the university's random drug testing program have been subpoenaed as well, a source said yesterday.
University officials said that no action would be taken on Long and Gregg until the indictments are unsealed and they can be reviewed by school attorneys.
"Education is a right, but playing basketball is a privilege," one high-ranking official said, adding that Slaughter would make the final decision on Long and Gregg's status.
Long and Gregg would be reinstated to the team if found not guilty, the official said. The case would be reviewed again if they were convicted.
In January 1984, basketball players Adrian Branch and Steve Rivers were suspended from the team within 24 hours of being arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges. Although both were convicted of possession of marijuana, Branch took a drug test that proved negative shortly after he was arrested and, partly on that basis, he was reinstated. Rivers, who refused to take a drug test, was not reinstated.
Player John Johnson, Bias' roommate during the school year, said yesterday that Long and Gregg had the support of other team members. Johnson, who was called before the grand jury but did not testify, said he had not discussed the investigation with them.
"The fellas are still the fellas," he said. "We definitely hope to have them back. I haven't really said too much to them about it. We're just living like we were before all this mess started . . . . We love them like we love everyone else on the team. We're still teammates, and we stick side by side no matter what happens."
Staff writers Mark Asher and Susan Schmidt contributed to this report.