One month before he signed a $35 million NFL contract in 2000, star Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis was arranging a drug deal, Atlanta federal prosecutors charged yesterday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Atlanta native is accused of hooking up a longtime friend with a woman was an undercover informant posing as a drug dealer. Lewis, 24, is charged with conspiring to buy and distribute cocaine and using a cellphone to arrange a drug transaction. This past season, Lewis set a single-game NFL rushing record of 295 yards and fell 40 yards short of the all-time single-season record.
Lewis’ lawyer, Ed Garland, said his client is innocent of all charges: “He hasn’t been involved in any drug deal. He hadn’t reached agreement to be in one. He hasn’t made any phone calls to carry out a drug deal. Anybody who says to the contrary is a liar.”
U.S. Attorney Bill Duffey said the charges stem from a lengthy investigation that has yielded 30 convictions so far. It could not be immediately determined why the indictment comes more than three years after the alleged crimes. Don Samuel, another Lewis attorney, said, “Why wait three and a half years to prosecute a guy who said he didn’t want to get involved in a drug deal? This is a sorry episode.”