Penn State linebacker recruit arrested on forgery charges

After speaking with several NFL teams about their coaching vacancies, Bill O'Brien last week said he would remain at Penn State. (Ralph Wilson/AP)

Penn State signee Zayd Issah, a highly sought-after linebacker from Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, has been arrested and charged for allegedly attempting to pass counterfeit money to buy food at a McDonald’s restaurant.

Issah, who is 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, was one of 12 players who signed a national letter of intent with the Nittany Lions on Feb. 6 to play football. It is not yet known how the arrest will affect Issah’s career at Penn State, where coach Bill O’Brien had expected him to compete for a backup role in his first season.

A request for comment from Penn State spokesman went unanswered Thursday.

According to court documents, Issah, 18, was arrested on March 10 by Susquehanna Township police and charged with eight counts – two felony counts each of forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery, and four misdemeanor counts of theft by deception.

He was released on $1,000 unsecured bail pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 9 before Dauphin County Magisterial District Judge James A. Lenker.

According to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Issah and two friends went into a McDonald’s on March 9, tried to pass counterfeit money and fled after police were summoned. Police caught the two friends and both implicated Issah in the scheme, saying he passed counterfeit bills at two locations, the newspaper said.

Police also intercepted Facebook messages between Issah and one of the suspects, which it said proved that Issah knew the money was counterfeit.

Issah had given Penn State an oral commitment last June but withdrew that pledge after the NCAA imposed sanctions against the football program. He re-committed in December.

--Joe Juliano