Most people in Heinz Field were delighted by the Steelers-Ravens game with a win of 43-23 for the Steelers. Stephen Sapp, 29, however, appears to have decided to force his own impromptu tryout as a replacement for kicker Shaun Suisham. Sapp was allegedly kicking a steel barrier and screaming near the C Gate. Officers told Sapp to leave but he reportedly began “to violently and recklessly push and throw the steel dividers around in a dangerous, disorderly manner.” When they threatened arrest, he then allegedly kicked another steel barrier so hard that it caused it to bend, come off the ground, and hit a woman on the other side so hard in the head that she was knocked unconscious. He was then hit with a flurry of charges, including most notably bribery. Yes, bribery.
Police say that Sapp resisted arrest with multiple officers struggling with him. He then allegedly told the officers “Listen, I know how this works. How much money will it take to make this go away and to let me go home today?” Officers say that they told him not to try to bribe him but he then allegedly said “Look, I am an IRS agent and I can help you in other ways if you let me go home and make this go away.”
What likelihood would there be that an officer would say “Gee, that sounds like a good deal. Could you give me a business deduction for a hunting rifle I want to buy?”
The victim said that she woke up in the hospital after being knocked out by Sapp, who appears not to have intended to hurt her. Aggravated assault in Pennsylvania includes reckless conduct however:
§ 2702. Aggravated assault.
(a) Offense defined.–A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he:
(1) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
Sapp is now facing charges that include aggravated assault, defiant trespass, resisting arrest, recklessly endangering another person and bribery.
The IRS has now confirmed that Sapp is one of theirs, though there presumably is some doubt as to how long he will remain one of theirs. The IRS released the following statement:
“I can confirm that the individual in the report is an IRS employee (currently furloughed) at the IRS office in Pittsburgh. I can also note that IRS employees are held to a high ethical standard of behavior; the outcome of any legal action may have an effect on employment status.”
The case reminds one of the recent case of Buffalo Bills fan who made news by falling on to fans on a lower deck. He not only secured a ban from the stadium but was fired from his job.
Sapp obviously faces a far more serious array of charges and, as a public employee, his alleged quid pro quo offer constitutes a crime. A defense of drunkenness could be used on the bribery charge though it is unlikely to help on the employment side.