Former Bears receiver Sam Hurd will change his plea formally to guilty
Thursday in Dallas in his federal drug case, his lawyer said Wednesday.
The former Northern Illinois player, currently in prison, is charged with drug conspiracy, accused of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana beginning in July 2011 and continuing through June 6, 2012.
Hurd prefers to "vigorously contest" the sentencing in the coming months, arguing that he was not involved in alleged drug trafficking as much as described by the government, attorney Jay Ethington said. Trial was set for Monday.
Ethington said Hurd may be a marijuana user but is not a cocaine distributor. He said the only example of cocaine directly linked to Hurd was that which undercover federal agents gave him in a Chicago area steakhouse in December 2011 shortly before he was arrested outside. The cocaine was given to him after he allegedly said he wanted to buy 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana weekly to distribute. The Bears later released him.
"He's a marijuana freak," Ethington said. "He loves marijuana. He's addicted to high-grade marijuana."
He said Hurd did not deal marijuana.
"Sell? No. Share with his friends? Yes," Ethington said.
Hurd invested in a medical marijuana operation in California about two years ago, Ethington said. His name was not on registered business records, Ethington said. He said the man the business was registered to was among a group that police and court records show was arrested in Denton, Texas, in July 2011.
Police determined the four men had traveled from California to deliver marijuana to Hurd and discovered "drug-related texts," according to prosecutors.
Hurd faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison and a $10 million fine. Ethington plans to request probation. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Hurd is not eligible for probation under his current charge.
Last month, the government filed a revised indictment that broadened and streamlined its case that he was trying to set up a massive drug network, charging him with one federal drug count instead of six.
A plea deal almost was reached last fall but apparently fell apart. Hurd's cousin, Jesse Tyrone Chavful, already has pleaded guilty to one federal drug charge and a third man, Toby Lujan, pleaded guilty in August. Both are expected to testify against Hurd.
(c)2013 Chicago Tribune
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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