- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004

ATLANTA — Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis, who had the second-highest rushing total in NFL history last season, was indicted yesterday on federal drug charges.

The Atlanta native is accused of trying to help a boyhood friend buy cocaine in the summer of 2000, U.S. Attorney William S. Duffey said. According to an affidavit, no drugs were ever purchased.

Lewis was expected to turn himself in today, said Ed Garland, Lewis’ attorney.

“Mr. Lewis wants everybody to know that he did nothing wrong,” Garland said. “He was not part of any drug deal, and any contention that he was is false.”

Lewis is charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine and using a cell phone in the commission of the first count, Duffey said.

FBI special agent Hoyt Mahaley said in an affidavit that an informant contacted Lewis on his cell phone June23, 2000, to discuss selling cocaine to Lewis’ associates. He said the conversation was recorded.

“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 affidavit said.

Hours after the phone call, Lewis and an associate, Angelo Jackson, met with the informant at an Atlanta restaurant, the affidavit said. There, Lewis and Jackson asked the informant about his drug operation and how much cocaine the informant was capable of distributing, the affidavit said.

The conversation at the restaurant was also recorded, according to court documents.

Jackson and the informant exchanged telephone numbers and met again July 12, 2000, at a gas station in Lithonia, an Atlanta suburb, the affidavit said. During the meeting, the informant showed Jackson five “simulated kilograms of cocaine” in the trunk of a car and they discussed drugs, but no purchase was made.

Jackson later paged the informant and then met several times with an undercover FBI agent who showed him cocaine for sale, the court records said. While Jackson expressed interest in buying the drugs, none was sold before he was arrested for carrying a loaded handgun, the affidavit said.

Lewis was no longer involved after the initial meeting at the restaurant, Mahaley said.

Jackson, who was also named in the indictment, was arrested yesterday on the drug indictment and made his initial court appearance. He faces the same counts and a third for attempt to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

Lewis and Jackson grew up in the same Atlanta neighborhood and had known each other for years, but no longer keep in touch, Garland said.

Lewis is not denying the meeting at the restaurant, but the substance of the meeting alleged in the indictment is false, Garland said.

Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards last year, becoming one of five players in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards. He fell short of Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 yards in the final game.

A Ravens spokesman, Chad Steele, said the indictment came as a surprise to the team.

“We had no clue,” Steele said. He added that they were still gathering information and would issue a statement later.

The NFL declined to comment.

Steele said Lewis was in Florida but wouldn’t specific what city. The alleged crime occurred one month before Lewis reported to the Ravens’ training camp to prepare for his first season in 2000.

In November 2001, Jamal Lewis was suspended for four games after violating the NFL’s substance and alcohol abuse policy. The league did not disclose the details of the violation, in keeping with its policy.

Lewis was the fifth pick overall in the 2000 draft. The Tennessee star signed a six-year, $35.3million contract with the Ravens in July 2000, during the same period addressed in yesterday’s indictment.

The indictment came out of a drug investigation in an Atlanta neighborhood that has led to 30 convictions and helped dismantle a cocaine-trafficking ring in the city, Duffey said.

Duffey refused to answer any questions regarding the indictment, including whether Lewis was tied to that drug ring.

Lewis is the second Raven to face serious charges in Atlanta. In 2000, star linebacker Ray Lewis, who is not related to Jamal Lewis, was charged with two other men in the killings of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar in a Buckhead street fight after a night of partying after Super Bowl XXXIV.

Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. In exchange for murder charges being dropped, Lewis testified against his two co-defendants, who later were acquitted of all charges.

Jamal Lewis has turned to Garland and his partner, Don Samuel, the same two lawyers who represented Ray Lewis during the 2000 trial.

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