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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 05/31/2011 5:03 PM

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Monster’s Ink
SI Article Backs Pittman’s Previous Tweet on Tattoo “Hookups”
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When allegations leaked back in December that Terrelle Pryor and a number of his teammates has sold or traded merchandise to a local tattoo parlor in exchange for free or discounted body art, Antonio Pittman was not surprised.

“This OSU tattoo stuff is silly. Cats been getting hookups on tats since back in ’01,” the former Ohio State running back, who led the Buckeyes in rushing from 2005-06, posted on his personal Twitter account.

It didn’t get much play with all the other drama surrounding Ohio State’s scandal, but it appears somebody was paying attention. In their latest report by George Dohrmann and David Epstein, Sports Illustrated alleges that “Ohio State players have been trading memorabilia—including items bearing (Jim) Tressel's signature—since at least the coach's second season.”

That was 2002, when SI says Dustin Halko was an artist Dudley'z Tattoos & Body Piercing. From ’02-04, Halko says that players “regularly visited the shop” and handed over signed jerseys, gloves, magazines and other goods in exchange for tattoos.

Among those he specifically remembered tattooing were former guard T.J. Downing, wide receiver Chris Vance and tight end Louis Irizarry, who was later kicked off the team for allegedly assaulting and robbing a fellow Ohio State.

“Halko says that more players, including (Maurice) Clarett (who declined to comment), traded with other artists,” the SI report said.

“And he estimates that at least 15 players violated NCAA rules at Dudley'z.”

His most memorable acquisition was a scarlet-and-gray training jacket with between 10 and 15 signatures on it, including Tressel's. Halko says he also traded tattoo work for a magazine bearing the coach's autograph.

Obviously Tressel never traded with the tattoo shop, and the owner, Darrell (Dudley) Ross claims that Halko is lying to get his name in the paper. Both Ross and Halko have criminal records, much like the owner of a more well-known shop called Fine Line Ink.

Edward Rife opened the shop in 2008 and a year later he briefly employed Halko as an artist. The tattoo shop quickly became a haven for drug trafficking, and Halko claims Rife stuck a gun in his face and had him put in the hospital after accusing him of stealing some cameras.

With drugs coming in and out one end of Fine Line Ink, the shop also became a hot spot for Ohio State football players. Former OSU walk-on and Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero became aware of Rife’s relationship with current Buckeyes Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey last April, which is when he made the fateful decision to email coach Tressel.

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