Hockey coach charged with shipping pot while on team trip

Hockey coach charged with shipping pot while on team trip »Play Video
Erick Bjorn Hamlet

ALBANY, Ore. - It was routine trip to a hockey game in Vancouver, Wash., when one of the team's coaches got an unexpected surprise.

"That really makes it one of the most unusual cases that we've ever had," said Albany Police Captain Eric Carter.

Coach Erik Hamlet and his amateur hockey team, the Southern Oregon Spartans, were on their way to Vancouver for a game Friday night when  police say the team bus made an unexpected detour.

Police say while the team bus was pulled over in Albany, Hamlet tried to mail a package he carried with him on the bus, a package that postal workers found kind of strange.
    
"What made it kinda suspicious was just somebody coming to pay a large amount of cash to get this box shipped overnight, no signature required," said Carter.

Employees say they tipped off police, who were alarmed by what they discovered inside the package.

"We didn't necessarily expect to find in excess of 20 pounds of marijuana with a street value of close to $65,000," said Carter.

The team and Carter continued on to Washington, but for police, their investigation was just beginning.
    
"We sent two of our investigators up just to do some surveillance," said Carter.
    
Investigators needed to figure out when the team would be heading back to Oregon.

As for the team, they played their game against the River City Jaguars that night - and won 5-1.

But on their trip back to Albany, things took a turn.

Officers stopped the team bus as it came back through Albany around 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
  
"There was shock all the way around, from the head coach, down to the bus driver, down to all the team members," said Carter.

But Hamlet wasn't on the bus.

He was heading back home in a car and had already passed through Albany.

"We put a call into his cell phone and said here's what we have, here's what we need you to do," explained Carter. "He ultimately was willing to make that and turned around, drove north and turned himself in."

The assistant hockey coach was arrested on possession and distribution of marijuana charges.

He was released from Linn County Jail over the weekend after posting bail.
    
Carter says Hamlet had a team member, who was unaware of its contents, carry the box full of pot from his home to the bus in Ashland.

But police say, no one from the team was aware of or involved in the incident other than Hamlet.

KVAL News did contact the Southern Oregon Spartans Monday.
    
They declined to comment on the arrest but did say that Hamlet has been suspended from the team.