Bizarre feud between two former Philadelphia Eagles players ends in court deal

The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

A bizarre feud between two former Eagles players in Florida appears to be over, thanks to a court deal in a felony vandalism case.

Former Eagles wide receiver Jabar Gaffney has agreed to enter a pre-trial program after being accused of vandalizing the car of Ex-Eagles defender Lito Sheppard, according to court documents.

Seth Schwartz, Gaffney’s attorney, told the Inquirer the former Florida standout agreed to pay $840.39 in restitution to Sheppard — his cousin by marriage — who claimed Gaffney vandalized his car after it stalled out a few blocks from a Jacksonville restaurant back in June 2018. The amount is significantly less than the $14,033.76 prosecutors said Sheppard claimed he had to pay to repair his BMW.

Sheppard obtained surveillance video of the parking lot, which showed a man he claimed to be Gaffney tampering with the gas tank on his BMW and a woman bending down near each tire. The suspect also allegedly poured an unknown substance into the gas tank after prying the cap off, according to the original police report.

Schwartz told the Inquirer that despite the deal, Gaffney maintains his innocence, and the only reason the former wide receive agreed to settle with the state was to prevent incurring the thousands of dollars it would have taken to prove his innocence in court.

“Jabar is upset he made a decision not to try the case over money because he feels like he hasn’t been able to exonerate himself,” Schwartz said.

Plea deal offered: Back in October, state prosecutors had offered Gaffney a plea deal that included paying Sheppard for the car damage, 100 hours of community service, and two years of probation, but took it off the table, citing comments Schwartz made to the media. It’s unclear why prosecutors decided to offer Gaffney this latest deal with more favorable terms, but Schwartz said it’s due to evidence that suggested Sheppard was misleading the state about the damage done to his car and Gaffney’s involvement.

“They believed Lito was telling the truth, and he was full of [expletive],” Schwartz told the Inquirer. “Basically, the state acknowledged that there were issues. They tried to save the case as best they could, and this is what came out of it.”

Schwartz also said prosecutors obtained a surveillance photo they claimed was Gaffney leaving a gated community about 20 minutes before the vandalism occurred. But Schwartz said not only did Gaffney not own the car in question, he said the man looked nothing like his client, pointing out his short hair and lack of neck tattoos.

The office of the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which was prosecuting Gaffney, did not respond to a request for comment.

Played high school ball together: Gaffney and Sheppard played football together at Raines High School in Jacksonville. The pair remained teammates while attending the University of Florida., where both were named first-team All-Americans.

According to a petition for a restraining order filed last year, Sheppard claimed he’d had issues with Gaffney since 2011, over false claims Sheppard had an affair with Gaffney’s wife. Schwartz said the bad blood stems from Gaffney’s refusal to lend Sheppard money.

Sheppard, the Eagles’ first-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, played 10 seasons in the NFL — seven of them in Philadelphia. He ended his career with 19 interceptions and 303 tackles.

Gaffney spent 11 seasons in the NFL with five different teams, with the bulk of his playing time coming with the Houston Texans and New England Patriots. He ended his career with 5,690 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.