Wednesday, February 25, 2004 Updated: February 26, 11:02 AM ET
Lewis expected to turn himself in Thursday
ATLANTA -- Jamal Lewis insists he did not try to help a
childhood friend buy cocaine in the summer of 2000, an accusation
that has the Baltimore Ravens running back facing federal drug
Lewis' attorney said a cocaine buy wasn't discussed during a
restaurant conversation more than three years ago involving Lewis,
a boyhood friend and a woman who turned out to be a police
That meeting and a prior cell phone conversation between Lewis
and the informant are the focus of federal drug charges filed
Wednesday against the NFL star. No drugs were ever purchased,
according to the indictment.
"Jamal Lewis wants everyone to know that he is not guilty, that
he has not been involved in drugs," said Ed Garland, the running
back's attorney. "He's extremely disappointed that this is
Lewis, who had the second-highest rushing total in NFL history
last season, planned to turn himself in Thursday, Garland said.
Lewis' other attorney, Don Samuel, said he expected the player to
briefly appear before a federal judge in the afternoon, then make a
statement outside court.
Lewis is charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to
distribute five kilograms of cocaine and using a cell phone in the
commission of the first count, U.S. Attorney William S. Duffey
said. If convicted on the conspiracy count, Lewis could face 10
years to life in prison.
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 on Wednesday.
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 also said he was surprised.
"But I don't about the facts. I know Jamal's character, and to
me, he's always been a straightforward guy," Weaver said. "I just
hope he finds the right people to help him get through this."
The NFL declined to comment.
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
"There are apparently tapes of the meeting, but the question is
who did what and who intended to do what," Garland said.
Garland accused the informant of setting up Lewis and "trumping
up what happened" in an attempt to get out of jail. He accused
authorities of trying to "create a crime where there isn't one."
Jackson was also indicted and arrested Wednesday. He faces the
same counts and a third for attempt to possess with the intent to
A college star at Tennessee, Lewis was the fifth pick overall in
the 2000 draft, and signed a six-year, $35.3 million contract with
the Ravens that July.
Last year, he became the fifth player in NFL history to rush for
more than 2,000 yards. He also set a single-game rushing mark with
295 against Cleveland. Lewis' 2,066 yards fell short of Eric
Dickerson's record of 2,105 yards. 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 for the
second time. The league did not disclose the details of the
violation, in keeping with its policy.
Lewis is the second Baltimore Ravens player 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.