February 26, 2004
Bowl running back charged
Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back is charged with
conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.
By Elliott McLaughlin
ATLANTA Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis,
who had the second-highest rushing total in NFL history
last season, was indicted Wednesday on federal drug charges.
The Atlanta native is accused of trying to help a childhood
friend buy cocaine in the summer of 2000 just before
he signed a six-year, $35.3 million contract with the
Ravens. No drugs were ever purchased, according to the
The running backs attorney, Ed Garland, said his
client was innocent and would turn himself in on Thursday.
Mr. Lewis wants everybody to know that he did nothing
wrong, Garland said. He was not part of any
drug deal and any contention that he was is false.
Lewis is charged with conspiring to possess with the intent
to distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine and using a cell
phone in the commission of the first count, according
to U.S. Attorney William S. Duffey.
The indictment came out of a drug investigation that has
led to 30 convictions and helped dismantle a cocaine-trafficking
ring in the city, Duffey said. He refused to say whether
Lewis was tied to that drug ring.
In an affidavit, FBI special agent Hoyt Mahaley said that
an informant contacted Lewis on his cell phone on June
23, 2000, to discuss selling cocaine to Lewis friend.
The conversation was recorded, according to the agent.
The cooperating source told Lewis that he/she was
willing to sell the narcotics to Lewis associates
for a price that Lewis can tax, meaning the price
could be marked up for a profit, Mahaley said in the affidavit.
Lewis responded Yeah, the agent
Hours after the call, Lewis and the friend, Angelo Jackson,
met with the informant at an Atlanta restaurant, the affidavit
said. There, Lewis and Jackson asked the informant how
much cocaine the informant was capable of distributing,
the affidavit alleges.
Jackson and the informant met again on July 12, 2000,
at a gas station in suburban Atlanta, the affidavit said.
During the meeting, they discussed drugs, but no purchase
Lewis wasnt at the gas station. His attorney, however,
said Lewis was at the restaurant, but not for the reason
alleged in the indictment.
Jackson was also indicted and arrested Wednesday. He faces
the same counts and a third for attempt to possess with
the intent to distribute cocaine.
Ravens spokesman Chad Steele said the indictment came
as a surprise to the team. We had no clue,
he said, adding that Lewis was in Florida.
In a statement, the team said: We believe in due
process, and Jamal will have his day in court. There are
two sides to every story. From what we know of the charges,
these seem out of character for the Jamal we know.
Ravens defensive end Anthony Weaver said: I was
surprised, but I dont about the facts. I know Jamals
character, and to me, hes always been a straightforward
guy. I just hope he finds the right people to help him
get through this.
The NFL declined to comment.
Lewis was the fifth pick overall in the 2000 draft, and
signed that July with the Ravens.
Last year, he became the fifth player in NFL history to
rush for more than 2,000 yards. His 2,066 yards fell short
of Eric Dickersons record of 2,105 yards in the
final game. He was the APs Offensive Player of the
In November 2001, he was suspended for four games after
violating the NFLs substance and alcohol abuse policy.
The league did not disclose the details of the violation,
in keeping with its policy.
Lewis is the second Baltimore Raven to face serious charges
in Atlanta. In 2000, star linebacker Ray Lewis
no relation to Jamal was charged with murder along
with two other men following a fight.
During the trial six months later, Ray Lewis pleaded guilty
to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. He
testified against his two co-defendants, who later were
acquitted of all charges.