Sport - National
Source: Deal on Ravens football player Jamal Lewis may include jail time after season
Saturday, October 2nd 2004, 11:13 AM CDT
ATLANTA (AP) _ Lawyers for Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis are negotiating a plea deal in his drug conspiracy case that would allow him to serve jail time in the offseason, a source close to the case told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Under a deal being discussed with federal prosecutors, the pro football player would serve four to six months _ possibly split between jail and a halfway house _ when the season concludes, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
``There would be no jail time that would interfere with his career,'' the source said.
Any deal must be signed off on by all sides and approved by a federal judge. If that happens, the deal could be completed in the next week, the source said.
At the Ravens' practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., Lewis said Saturday that he was waiting to talk to his lawyers, but indicated that a plea deal has been considered. ``It could be a trial, it could be pleas. Those are all options,'' he said.
``My lawyers will call me and let me know what's going on if something is going on,'' Lewis said. ``They haven't called me and let me know anything, there's nothing I can give you feedback about.''
Lewis, 24, is accused of helping broker a cocaine deal for Angelo Jackson, 26, a childhood friend, during conversations with a government informant in Atlanta during the summer of 2000. He is currently scheduled to stand trial Nov. 1 _ about the middle of the NFL season.
Both men are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and using a cell phone in violation of federal law and attempted cocaine possession. They pleaded not guilty and their lawyers have suggested in court papers that their clients were entrapped by the informant, who they said has a long criminal record.
The deal being discussed is not contingent on Lewis providing testimony against Jackson, the source said, although Lewis may choose to cooperate.
The source disputed a report in The Baltimore Sun on Saturday that said a deal had been reached.
Both Lewis attorney Jerome Froelich and acting U.S. Attorney Sally Yates declined to comment.
Last week, Froelich said he was preparing for trial. But in recent days, talks have apparently intensified as Lewis' defense team has sought to avoid a suspension by the NFL and a trial that could lead to a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence if Lewis is convicted of conspiracy.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said a player convicted of a drug offense would violate the league's drug policy. The league's punishment would be based on the player's history and the facts of the case. He declined to comment on a possible plea deal or what sanctions Lewis could face.
Last year, Lewis became the fifth player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards.
Kevin Byrne, a spokesman for the Ravens, said Lewis has done a good job staying focused on football amid the charges.
``Jamal's focus in his job with the Ravens has been excellent all year,'' he said. ``Obviously he's had this hanging over his head all season.''
Jackson also is set to stand trial November 1st.