University of Southern California students charged with stealing NFL draft jerseys

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – APRIL 27: (L-R) Bryce Young poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected first overall by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Two men who were arrested last week on allegations they stole jerseys from a restricted area during the NFL Draft in Kansas City have been identified as student journalists at the University of Southern California.

Eric Lambkins, 41, and Jude Ocañas, 19, were arrested after the draft after being accused of using their media credentials to gain access to restricted areas where they then allegedly stole the shirts.

On Wednesday, the USC Annenberg Student Newsroom published an article identifying the two men as students in the journalism program who received media credentials to attend the NFL Draft. The couple were among five USC students who were first granted permission to attend the draft on behalf of the school, the article said.

Student journalists described the arrest as having taken place while they were seated on a plane awaiting their return journey. The report says Kansas City police boarded the plane and arrested them. Each man has since bonded and returned to campus, according to the school.

Annenberg described the two students as exemplary journalists of integrity and renown. Lambkins is considered a graduate student, U.S. Army veteran, and student publication editor. Ocañas is described as a freshman journalism student with “outstanding academic achievement” who dreams of becoming an NFL analyst.

When contacted for comment, USC provided the following statement to KTLA:

“While limited by student privacy laws in what we can share, we are cooperating with authorities in this matter and will follow our internal processes regarding any allegations of misconduct.”

Statement from the University of Southern California

The same statement has appeared in other publications, including Annenberg.

The NFL Draft is an annual event in which the best players in college football are selected by their new teams and welcomed into the NFL. As part of Round 1 of the draft, each selected draftee receives a personalized jersey for their new team. Those present to accept the shirts also have them personalized with their last name.

According to earlier reports from KTLA’s sister station WDAF, three jerseys were removed from Nike’s designated room on Friday morning.

All three jerseys belonged to the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers – it was unclear if the jerseys had remained from the previous day’s ceremonies or belonged to drafted players.

Each jersey is said to be worth $350.

Lambkins and Ocañas are expected to face charges of second-degree burglary and one misdemeanor count of first-degree trespassing.

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