DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Former Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Sam Hurd was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a drug ring.
Hurd pleaded guilty to drug trafficking back in April. The charge carried a minimum 10-year sentence.
“I’m sorry and very remorseful for everything I did”, a tearful Sam Hurd said before a packed federal courtroom. “I was addicted to marijuana. I’ve never sold or used cocaine”, Hurd repeated several times in his personal plea for leniency, before Judge Jorge Solis.
Hurd’s conviction brought a possibility of life in prison, but Judge Solis sentenced the San Antonio native to 15 years in federal prison with five years of supervised release.
His December 2011 arrest outside a suburban Chicago steakhouse came after he tried to buy a kilogram of cocaine in what turned out to be a sting.
According to a federal complaint, Hurd told an undercover agent that he wanted 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana per week to distribute in the Chicago area. He claimed he was already distributing 4 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 and Dallas Cowboys who had played most of his five seasons on special teams. He was in the first year of a three-year contract reportedly worth more than $5 million.
While no other players are known to have been charged in connection with the case, Hurd claimed in an interview published Tuesday that he shared marijuana with Cowboys teammates and smoked during the last three to four years of his career “all day, every day.”
“I’m in the NFL, and I’m gonna ask people for a few hundred dollars on top of what I paid for it? Nah,” Hurd told Sports Illustrated. “Slide me what I got it for and take it. Enjoy it.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, asked Tuesday about Hurd, declined to comment “because I just don’t know anything about that.”
Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, a former teammate of Hurd’s, called Hurd a “great guy in the locker room” and a “great teammate.”
“It’s very shocking to hear,” Hatcher said. “But as far as everybody smoking in the NFL, I don’t know. As long as you keep your business, whatever you do off the field is your business. I really don’t know what to say about that situation.”
Hurd wrote to CBS 11 I-Team Reporter Mireya Villarreal, detailing his life in jail and why he believes the government was targeting him.
In the letter, the former Cowboys’ player admits he’s no angel. But he also says he’s been set up by the government, his cousin, and another defendant. He feels he’s been made out to look like a drug lord, when in reality he’s just a loving and trusting husband who made a bad mistake.
Today, Hurd spent 20 minutes before the judge arguing against the government’s claim that the former NFL player was a leader of a drug network. Hurd said he was trying to help a friend by giving him $88,000 in cash. That friend told federal agents he was planning to buy large quantities of cocaine for Hurd.
Hurd said before sentnecing that his marijuana addiction ruined his career, put him in surroundings with drug dealers and hurt his wife, child and other family members.
One of Hurd’s attorneys, Jay Ethington, has said that Hurd was given no promise of leniency for pleading guilty and avoiding trial. Sentence recommendations from prosecutors and Hurd’s attorneys were sealed.
Chavful and another co-defendant, Toby Lujan, have both pleaded guilty to being involved in the conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis, who sentenced Hurd, gave Chavful eight years in prison for a much smaller role in the scheme. Lujan will be sentenced in January.
This is a developing story.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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