Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Ravens' Lewis to plead guilty

By Harry R. Weber
The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis has agreed to plead guilty in his federal drug conspiracy case, an aide to the presiding judge said Tuesday.

Lewis is scheduled to enter his plea Thursday in federal court in Atlanta, said Vicki Hanna, the courtroom deputy for U.S. District Judge Orinda D. Evans.

"A guilty plea on Mr. Lewis," Hanna said. "That's what's scheduled. Correct."

Hanna would not release details about Lewis' plea, including what charge he will admit to.

"There is no plea agreement entered," Hanna said. "The agreement won't be filed until it's entered, which would be Thursday. There is no plea agreement on file."

A source familiar with the plea negotiations told The Associated Press this past weekend that lawyers for Lewis have been negotiating a deal that would allow him to serve jail time in the offseason.

Under the deal being considered, Lewis would plead guilty to using a cell phone in violation of federal law, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He would serve four months in a minimum-security prison and two months in a halfway house, the source said.

Any deal must be approved by Evans. The source said defense lawyers and prosecutors have an agreement in principle on the terms of the deal, but stressed that Lewis must sign off on it, which likely would not happen until Thursday.

A lawyer for Lewis, Don Samuel, did not immediately return calls Tuesday seeking comment. Patrick Crosby, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, declined to comment.

Lewis, 25, is charged with helping broker a cocaine deal for co-defendant Angelo Jackson, a childhood friend, during conversations with a government informant in Atlanta during the summer of 2000. Their trial remains on the docket to start Nov. 1, which falls in the middle of the NFL season.

In addition to the cell phone charge, Lewis and Jackson are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and attempted cocaine possession. The conspiracy charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Both have pleaded innocent to all charges.

Under the deal that has been discussed, Lewis would plead guilty only to the cell phone charge, and no quantity of drug would be specified, thus allowing the short sentence, the source said.

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