Ex-football star pleads to probation violation

WARREN – Given a risky chance to kick his cocaine or painkiller addiction through a court-monitored treatment program, former Ohio State All-American defensive end Van DeCree was sentenced to seven months in prison Monday after flunking drug tests a probation officer gave him.

Originally, the 59-year-old DeCree was set to challenge the probation violation Monday. Instead, DeCree pleaded guilty rather than produce an expert witness he said previously could counter the drug screening procedures used in the local court.

”I’ve told you and everyone who chooses the treatment-in-lieu-of-conviction program, it’s very high risk and high reward. But you only get one bite at the apple. You’re going to prison today,” said Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos.

The judge also hit DeCree, of Main Avenue S.W., with a $75 restitution order for a misdemeanor Workers’ Compensation fraud charge he was indicted on along with possession of cocaine and five counts of deception to obtain dangerous drugs.

DeCree already completed a program through Glenbeigh Health Sources, a drug and alcohol treatment center, in January but was still being monitored by a probation officer, who filed probation violations when she said DeCree flunked at least two random drug tests and avoided taking tests at other times.

Last month, Decree was ordered to take a test right in the courthouse. The probation officer said Decree returned with an ”ice cold” container that appeared to be nothing more than clear water. A second check of the sample showed results that it ”was not from human origin” and most likely toilet water that DeCree said he scooped up after missing the cup.

DeCree, a former World Football League player, played for the Buckeyes in 1973 and 1974 after a standout career at Warren Western Reserve.