Chris Simms Did Not Smoke Pot, Friend Testifies
By Olivia Scheck
Manhattan Supreme Court — A friend of former NFL quarterback Chris Simms took the witness stand Tuesday to swear under oath that it was him, and not the football star, who smoked pot the night Simms was arrested.
Charlie Granatell, who is a marketing manager from New Jersey, said he joined Simms and his wife and another friend for dinner and a night out in Manhattan the day of Simms' fateful police checkpoint.
Granatell said he smoked half a joint the morning of June 30, 2010, and then finished off the rest while standing outside of Simms' parked car while the former quarterback was inside at a birthday party for party promoter Noel Ashman at Nobu. Simms' pregnant wife stayed inside the car, he said.
"He was acting very very lucid," Ashman testified Tuesday. "We had a long conversation at my party."
When Simms returned, Granatell and his friend hopped back into the Mercedes SUV, reeking of pot smoke.
"He said something like, 'did you guys smoke in here?' And I said, no, we smoked outside," Granatell testified Tuesday.
When NYPD officer Francisco Acosta pulled Simms over as part of a checkpoint in Greenwich Village that night, Granatell said the officer asked Simms, who was sitting in the drivers seat right in front of Granatell, "did you smoke marijuana?"
"It happened too fast. He was outside the car and before we knew it, he was in handcuffs," Granatell said, "If I could go back and change it, I would, but I can't."
Granatell said Simms' wife ended up driving him and his friend to Simms' parent's house after the arrest, where they told his mother what happened.
Asked why he headed home after the arrest instead of heading to the precinct to clear up the confusion, Granatell said, "we thought it was going to be okay, we didn't think there was going to be a problem."
Granatell testified he was arrested on Feb. 28, 2011 for possession of marijuana at his home in New Jersey.
Simms' wife, Danielle, was expected to take the stand after lunch Tuesday, but the defense decided not to call her.
Acosta testified on the stand earlier Tuesday, painting a slightly different story of the arrest. He said Simms reeked of pot smoke all through the arrest and even after he had been held for several hours.
"When he came out of the cell, I still smelled the odor, the very strong odor, of marijuana on his breath," Acosta said.
Prosecutors said Simms admitted to cops, "I took four puffs," during the arrest, and claimed, "I smoked everything."
Simms claims he was misquoted.
Simms, who has not played in the NFL since 2009, faces up to a year in jail if convicted.