Simply by NOMAAN MERCHANT
DALLAS (AP) — Former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for his role in starting a drug-distribution scheme whilst playing for the Chicago Bears, completing a steep downfall that ended his football career and still left his future in tatters.
Hurd, 28, received the punishment within a federal courtroom in Dallas after pleading guilty in April to 1 count of trying to buy plus distribute large amounts of cocaine plus marijuana. The charge carried at least 10-year sentence and a maximum of existence.
Authorities say that while NFL teammates and friends knew him being a hardworking wide receiver and wedded father, Hurd was fashioning another identity as a wannabe drug kingpin with a focus on “high-end deals” along with a need for large amounts of drugs.
U. S. District Judge Jorge Solis gave Hurd a much shorter word than the 27 to 34 yrs recommended by federal sentencing suggestions. Solis noted that the case against Hurd centered on a “lot of agreements” to buy and sell marijuana plus cocaine, rather than physical transactions of drugs.
But , the judge said, “You didn’t just start nickel and diming it. ”
Hurd stood before him in fruit jail scrubs after a rambling, psychological 30-minute plea for mercy. Behind him in the gallery were greater than a dozen family members and friends.
“You had everything going for you, ” Solis told Hurd, adding that he thought the case was a “tragedy. ”
Hurd’s December 2011 arrest outdoors a suburban Chicago steakhouse arrived after he tried to buy a kilogram of cocaine in what turned out to be the sting. According to a federal complaint, Hurd told an undercover agent that he wanted 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1, 500 pounds of marijuana per week in order to distribute in the Chicago area. He or she claimed he was already distributing four kilograms a week, according to the complaint. A kilogram is about 2 . 2 pounds.
At the time, Hurd was a wide receiver with stints for the Bears plus Dallas Cowboys who had played most of his five seasons upon special teams. He was in the very first year of a three-year contract apparently worth more than $5 million.
The Bears soon cut him. Hurd was released on bail and returned to Texas, where he grew up, but soon fell into trouble again, according to court documents. He allegedly attempted to buy more cocaine and cannabis through a cousin, Jesse Tyrone Chavful, and failed two drug lab tests. That led a magistrate assess in August 2012 to revoke his bail and order him returned to jail.
Hurd spoke near the end of a four-hour listening to, sometimes reading from handwritten notes and sometimes looking directly with Solis to plead for whim.
While he denied leading a major conspiracy or dealing with Chavful, Hurd admitted to having a marijuana dependancy and a weakness for friends who seem to needed his help. He accepted giving $88, 000 to another co-defendant, Toby Lujan, knowing that the money might go to buy drugs. And he accepted the fateful meeting at a steakhouse that ended in his arrest.
“I regret not thinking about the consequences, ” Hurd said, adding: “I produced some dumb, very bad choices. ”
His attorneys tried to describe his claims of having high-value customers and massive demand for medications as mere boasting, saying he had a penchant for exaggeration. Among his lawyers, Michael McCrum, known as his client “a guy showing up at a restaurant, talking stupid. ”
“I think he should be punished, but for the crime that he committed, ” McCrum said.
But Hurd’s failed drug tests and alleged dealings with Chavful appeared to element heavily against him Wednesday. Prosecutors repeatedly brought up Chavful — rejecting claims by Hurd and his lawyers that the two men were referring to Hurd’s attempts to start a T-shirt printing business.
“Normally, when you drill down a hole, you quit digging, ” said prosecutor John Kull. “But he keeps digging. ”
Chavful and Lujan have each pleaded guilty to being active in the conspiracy. Solis gave Chavful 8 years in prison for their smaller role in the scheme. Lujan will be sentenced in January.
While no other NFL players are proven to have been charged in connection with the case, Hurd claimed in an interview published Tuesday by Sports Illustrated that he discussed marijuana with Cowboys teammates plus smoked during the last three to four years of their career “all day, every day. ”
But while he gained additional notoriety due to his now-finished football career, prosecutors said Hurd’s case was simple.
“He’s not getting prosecuted because he’s an NFL player, ” Kull said. “He’s being prosecuted because he’s the drug dealer. ”