NFL, Drugs and Prison: The ballad of Sam Hurd
Published: December 11, 2013
Back in Judge Solis’ courtroom, Mike McCrum is doing an admirable job of fighting for Hurd’s life. He begins by going through a timeline of events leading up to Hurd’s December 14, 2011 arrest outside a Morton’s steakhouse in Chicago, where Hurd had recently signed as a free agent with the Bears. According to the criminal complaint filed by Special Agent George Ramirez, Hurd told undercover agents that he was interested in purchasing five to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pound of marijuana per week for distribution in the Chicago area. He negotiated to receive the narcotics at $25,000 per kilogram of cocaine and $450 per pound of marijuana, and left the restaurant with a kilo of coke that agents claim he was fronted.
McCrum maintains that the informants in the case targeted Hurd and directed the investigation over the course of five months to induce crime. He claims that during previous negotiations, it was an informant who raised the number of kilos of cocaine being discussed to a total of five, and it was also an informant who pushed for an ongoing “relationship” as opposed to a one-time deal.
McCrum next focuses his attention to Hurd’s strained relationship with his cousin Tyrone Chavful, a convicted marijuana trafficker who a witness later refers to as a “snake.” On June 6, 2012 Chavful was arrested in San Antonio for trafficking drugs moments after speaking to the already-busted Hurd via cellphone. Chavful would later tell agents that he previously sold Hurd 30 pounds of marijuana. Utilizing phone traffic data, McCrum presents an absence of corroboration on Hurd’s part and also cites the lack of cash flow to support “big time deals.”
In a steady tone, McCrum continues his defense with a trio of witnesses. Jacob Resendez, who was the best man at Hurd’s wedding, testifies that although pot was a presence, he never saw or heard any mention of cocaine. Larry Williams, a San Antonio native from Denver Heights who works in sports marketing and helped Hurd set up his first camps for kids, describes Hurd’s heart and passion for children. He remarks that despite coming from a neighborhood that was infested with drugs, “at the end of the day, Sam is a good guy.”
As Corbin-Newsome takes the stand, she waves to Hurd with a smile and her little brother smiles back. The mother of two recalls not-too-distant family crawfish boils and Thursday night Bible studies, describing Hurd as “the type of guy who wore the weight of the world on his shoulders.” She testifies that they prayed together and that Hurd was both remorseful and repenting, noting his outreach to kids with autism and volunteer work with the San Antonio Food Bank.
More than four hours into the sentencing the spotlight shifts from McCrum to Judge Solis, who begins to weigh in. He states that both drug dealing and cocaine are involved in the case, and believes it was Hurd who was directing others. Hurd turns to Ethington with a puzzled look that masks serious concern. “Mr. Hurd is the spoke,” says Judge Solis, his voice filling the courtroom. “It all leads to him.”