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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Drug charges against Cowboys' Peppi Zellner dropped

FORSYTH, Ga. (AP) - Drug charges against Dallas Cowboys defensive end Peppi Zellner were dropped Monday after his brother claimed responsibility for having crack cocaine in their car.

Magistrate Judge Frank Wilder dismissed the charges on the basis of a sworn statement from Mannon Lee Zellner Jr. that said his brother knew nothing about drugs being in the car or being tossed from the vehicle, Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick said.

The Zellners were arrested Thursday by narcotics investigators from Bittick's office and the Forsyth Police Department. Peppi Zellner was released the next day on $5,000 bond on a charge of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.

Bittick said investigators were in a high-drug area of Forsyth on Thursday afternoon when they noticed a vintage 1965 Chevrolet Impala with Texas plates, which one of the officers knew belonged to Peppi Zellner, Bittick said.

They saw something thrown from the passenger side of the car, and picked up the package containing what was believed to be crack.

Peppi Zellner, 27, is an unrestricted free agent, but the Cowboys have shown little interest in re-signing him. He was a fourth-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 1999 and a former star defensive end at Fort Valley State University in central Georgia.

The 6-foot-5, 286-pounder Zellner played in 57 games in four seasons with the Cowboys. He started 15 games in 2001 and set career highs with 46 tackles and three sacks.

He started in only two games last season and had 29 tackles and no sacks.


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