SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Law enforcement officials have charged baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda with possessing marijuana and other drugs, a California Highway Patrol official said on Wednesday.
Cepeda, 69, who now works as a community representative for the San Francisco Giants speaking to children about the dangers of drugs, was stopped on Tuesday while driving 83 mph on a major highway with a speed limit of 65 mph northeast of San Francisco.
“When the officer made contact with Mr. Cepeda, she smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle,” said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Wulf Corrington. “This prompted her to do a search of the car and during that search she found marijuana. She also found what is believed to be a controlled substance, methamphetamine or cocaine.”
Officials also found a syringe. Cepeda was briefly held in a local jail before being released pending court hearings. He was not suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs, Corrington said.
Cepeda’s lawyer said his client was innocent and the former baseball star does not use drugs.
“This is an unfortunate misunderstanding, and we intend to meet promptly with the authorities to explain that Orlando was not responsible for any illegal substances in the car,” his lawyer, Ted Cassman, said in a statement. “A family member is diabetic and holds a prescription for medicinal marijuana.”
Medical marijuana is legal under California state law but illegal under federal law.
“Orlando Cepeda is a Hall of Fame and World Series champion who is against the use of illegal drugs in all forms,” Cassman said.”
With a career .297 batting average with 379 home runs, Cepeda was the second native of Puerto Rico to make the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was arrested and convicted in 1975 for smuggling marijuana from Puerto Rico and spent 10 months in prison.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Cepeda has had three speeding violations in the last three years and got a ticket for disobeying a traffic device, typically a traffic light violation.