Habs' O'Byrne, Kostopoulos arrested
EDITOR'S NOTE: On July 29, 2008, the charge of grand theft against Ryan O'Byrne and Tom Kostopoulos was dropped. For details of the story click here.
Montreal Canadiens defenceman Ryan O'Byrne and forward Tom Kostopoulos were arrested outside a South Tampa nightclub early Monday.
O'Byrne, 23, was charged with grand theft, while Kostopoulos, 29, was charged with resisting an officer without violence, CBC News has learned.
Both players were arrested around 3 a.m. local time outside a bar named Whiskey Park and spent the night in custody, but were released Monday morning after posting bail. O'Byrne's bail was set at $2,000, while Kostopoulos paid $500.
The Canadiens, who play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, declined to comment until after their 4 p.m. practice.
The situation involving the players arose when a woman set her purse on the counter top inside the bar and then noticed it was missing before alerting security. The bar's bouncers allegedly saw O'Byrne outside with the purse and the woman's cellphone in his hands. He was questioned by police.
"They approached him and asked him what he was doing with her cellphone and her purse. He said it was his girlfriend's purse. They asked him what his girlfriend's name was and he couldn't provide the name of his girlfriend," Tampa Police Department spokesperson Andrea Davis told the CBC.
O'Byrne was detained and placed in the back of a police car. Davis said that's when the situation deteriorated.
"There were several other hockey players around. One of them was Kostopolous. Police kept telling them all to back up. Everyone did except for Kostopolous," Davis said.
Kostopoulos was arrested when he refused to obey the police order.
The charge of grand theft carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail, but Davis said it's unlikely O'Byrne would serve time if convicted.
Montreal recalled O'Byrne from its American Hockey League, the Hamilton Bulldogs, on Sunday.
The 23-year-old rookie played 11 games with the Canadiens earlier this season, before being assigned to Hamilton on Feb. 7 after missing 16 games due to a hand injury suffered on Dec. 28.