The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Nation & World

November 13, 2013

Former NFL WR Hurd gets 15 years in drug case

DALLAS — Former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for his role in starting a drug-distribution scheme while playing for the Chicago Bears, completing a steep downfall that ended his football career and left his future in tatters.

Hurd, 28, received the punishment in a federal courtroom in Dallas after pleading guilty in April to one count of trying to buy and distribute large amounts of cocaine and marijuana. The charge carried a minimum 10-year sentence and a maximum of life.

Authorities say that while NFL teammates and friends knew him as a hardworking wide receiver and married father, Hurd was fashioning a separate identity as a wannabe drug kingpin with a focus on "high-end deals" and a need for large amounts of drugs.

U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis gave Hurd a much shorter sentence than the 27 to 34 years recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. Solis noted that the case against Hurd centered on a "lot of agreements" to buy and sell marijuana and 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 orange jail scrubs after a rambling, emotional 30-minute plea for mercy. Behind him in the gallery were more 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."

Federal inmates are typically not eligible for parole and required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

Hurd's 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.

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 tried to buy more cocaine and marijuana through a cousin, Jesse Tyrone Chavful, and failed two drug tests. That led a magistrate judge in August 2012 to revoke his bail and order him returned to jail.

Hurd spoke near the end of a four-hour hearing, sometimes reading from handwritten notes and sometimes looking directly at Solis to plead for mercy.

While he denied leading a major conspiracy or dealing with Chavful, Hurd admitted to having a marijuana addiction and a weakness for friends who needed his help. He admitted giving $88,000 to another co-defendant, Toby Lujan, knowing that the money might go to buy drugs. And he admitted the fateful meeting at a steakhouse that ended in his arrest.

"I regret not thinking about the consequences," Hurd said, adding: "I made some dumb, very bad decisions."

His attorneys tried to explain his claims of having high-value customers and massive demand for drugs as mere boasting, saying he had a penchant for exaggeration. One of his lawyers, Michael McCrum, called 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 factor heavily against him Wednesday. Prosecutors repeatedly brought up Chavful — rejecting claims by Hurd and his attorneys that the two men were talking about Hurd's attempts to start a T-shirt printing business.

"Normally, when you dig a hole, you quit digging," said prosecutor John Kull. "But he keeps digging."

Chavful and Lujan have both pleaded guilty to being involved in the conspiracy. Solis gave Chavful eight years in prison for his smaller role in the scheme. Lujan will be sentenced in January.

While no other NFL players are known to have been charged in connection with the case, Hurd claimed in an interview published Tuesday by Sports Illustrated that he shared marijuana with Cowboys teammates and smoked during the last three to four years of his career "all day, every day."

But while he gained extra notoriety due to his now-finished football career, prosecutors said Hurd's case was simple.

"He's not being prosecuted because he's an NFL player," Kull said. "He's being prosecuted because he's a drug dealer."

 

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

    April 18, 2014

  • news_horselesscarriage.jpg Proposed car to replace NYC horse carriages shown

    An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City was presented Thursday at the New York International Auto Show, as critics expressed their distaste for the idea.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_homesickforprison.jpg Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3½ years

    An ex-con who spent most of his adult life behind bars on Thursday got what he said he wanted for robbing a suburban Chicago bank. The 74-year-old gets to go back to the place he called home — prison.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay Marriage Utah [Duplicate] Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_obamalocalschools.jpg Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

    Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0107 Super WAL-MART 1 Wal-Mart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

    The world's largest retailer introduced a new money transfer service Thursday that it says will cut fees for its low-income customers by up to 50 percent compared with similar services elsewhere.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_ukraineprotests.jpg Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions

    Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_target.jpg Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target's computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry

     An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday.

    April 17, 2014

  • 3 protesters killed in attack on Ukrainian base

    The turmoil in Ukraine dominated the European landscape Thursday, as three protesters were killed in a clash in southern Ukraine, high-level talks were held in Geneva and Vladimir Putin weighed in on his neighbor's future for hours from Moscow.

    April 17, 2014

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium