TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, February 26, 2004
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Pro Bowl running back charged
The Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back is charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

By Elliott McLaughlin
Associated Press

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 indictment.

The running back’s 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 said.

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 was made.

Lewis wasn’t 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 don’t about the facts. I know Jamal’s character, and to me, he’s 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 Dickerson’s record of 2,105 yards in the final game. He was the AP’s Offensive Player of the Year.

In November 2001, he was suspended for four games after violating the NFL’s 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.
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