Mt. Vernon Register-News

Sports

April 12, 2013

Hurd pleads guilty to drug charge

DALLAS (AP) — Former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd pleaded guilty Thursday to trying to buy cocaine and marijuana to set up a drug-distribution network, leaving a once-promising career in tatters as he faces a prison sentence of at least 10 years.

Hurd, 27, pleaded guilty in federal court in Dallas to one count of possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute. He pleaded guilty days before his trial was scheduled to begin, without any promise of a more lenient sentence.

Standing in an orange jumpsuit, the tall, lanky Hurd leaned into a microphone and asked to address the court.

“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done,” he said in a brief statement, adding that he intended to plead guilty for months and never expected the process to take as long.

Hurd was playing for the Chicago Bears in December 2011 — months after signing a contract reportedly worth more than $5 million — when he attended a meeting at a Chicago-area steakhouse with an undercover officer and a confidential informant. Prosecutors have alleged in court documents that Hurd accepted a kilogram of cocaine from the officer and signaled that he’d be interested in buying large, weekly quantities of cocaine and marijuana.

Hurd was arrested outside the steakhouse and cut by the Bears shortly afterward.

He was released on bond, but was re-arrested in August after failing drug tests and being accused of trying to arrange another drug buy.

Jay Ethington, one of Hurd’s attorneys, said after court Thursday that his client was “an extensive marijuana user,” which may have contributed to his involvement in trafficking. Ethington also blamed “parasites,” including two former co-defendants who have pleaded guilty, for drawing Hurd into criminal activity.

“Here’s a young fellow that had his whole life ahead of him,” Ethington said, adding that Hurd was active in charity work on his own. “Now that’s all gone.”

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