There were indications here that the U.S. attorney's office in New Orleans and former Saints running back Mike Strachan are close to reaching a plea-bargaining agreement on 12 cocaine charges for which he was indicted in May and June.
U.S. Attorney John Volz has called off a visit here to take depositions from a number of players at the Saints training camp, saying that the Saints' phase of the investigation "is no longer needed" right now.
"As of right now that is true," he said. "We have had a change of plans. I can't say why right now, but it will become obvious in the next few days."
Volz said he could not comment on the plea-bargaining issue. U.S. District Judge Veronica Wicker has ordered prosecutors and defense attorneys not to discuss the Strachan case, scheduled to be heard in her court Aug. 30.
Russell Schonekas, the Saints' general counsel, said he is aware of plea bargaining.
"I know they have been trying to plea bargain for ages, both sides," Schonekas said here Sunday. "That is not unusual. That goes on in every case as soon as it is filed. I didn't want to suggest it is anything unusual because they are doing it."
Strachan was originally indicted in May on seven counts, six counts of distribution and one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. A June indictment listed five additional dates and incidents of alleged drug transactions involving Strachan. When originally charged, Strachan pleaded innocent.
Should a plea-baragaining agreement be reached, there will be no trial and no reason for Saints to testify.
Dave Waymer, a third-year defensive back, said he was aware that Volz was supposed to conduct interviews here.
"I really haven't been thinking about all that since I have been down here for training camp," Waymer said. "My mind has been on football, period. Too much has been written and said about all that anyway."
Some present and former Saints, including all-pro running back George Rogers, were expected to testify that they bought cocaine from Strachan or his partner, Joselyn Bruno, according to sources familiar with the case.
Earlier this year, Bruno was convicted of distributing cocaine and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.