Ex-Cowboy to remain in jail on drug charges

Saturday, December 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ Former Dallas Cowboys lineman Nate Newton will spend the holidays in a federal prison at Seagoville in southeast Dallas County until drug-trafficking charges against him are resolved, a judge decided.

U.S. Magistrate Paul Stickney denied bail for Newton after hearing details of his arrest Wednesday south of Dallas _ in northern Ellis County _ by Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

DEA agents said they found $10,000 in cash in Newton's red pickup and 175 pounds of marijuana in two duffel bags and a suitcase in the trunk of an accompanying Monte Carlo driven by Charles Deaundra Howard, 25, of Garland. Authorities said the marijuana had a street value of $700,000.

The judge said at Newton's detention hearing on Friday that he would have needed ``very, very strong assurances'' that Newton would stay out of trouble if freed again because of Newton's arrest less than six weeks ago in Louisiana on drug-trafficking charges. Newton was free on bail on the Louisiana charge.

Stickney said he would reconsider if Newton's attorney, Howard Shapiro, can produce evidence in support of bail.

Newton, who lives in East Ellijay, Ga., and will turn 40 on Thursday, is a six-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman who helped Dallas win three Super Bowls. He spent 14 seasons in the NFL, 13 with Dallas. He retired last year after a season with the Carolina Panthers.

Newton was arrested Nov. 4 in Louisiana under similar circumstances. Newton was driving a van following another vehicle when police arrested him with 213 pounds of marijuana and $18,000 in cash, police said.

A Carolina Panthers gym bag in the bed of Newton's pickup and belonging to him had trace amounts of marijuana but not enough to warrant additional charges, said John Donnelly, a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

At Friday's hearing, Donnelly testified about a series of events that began with an informant's tip about a scheduled drug run to Houston, triggering a mobile surveillance operation that ensnared Newton and the others. The informant, a woman, was in the Monte Carlo with Howard at the time of the arrests, officials said.

Newton appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit and ankle chains.

Arrested with Newton were Howard and Bruce Freeman-Canady, 30, of Jacksonville, Fla., who was in the pickup with Newton. A warrant was issued for a fourth man, Billy Crenshaw, 25, of Dallas, who was not in either of the vehicles but who agents said rendezvoused with Howard earlier in the day.

Freeman-Canady, an unemployed pit-bull breeder, told his wife that he and Newton, also a breeder, were going to Dallas to buy dogs, Donnelly said at the hearing.

Through Shapiro, Newton said he is innocent. Shapiro said Newton was unaware of the drugs in the Monte Carlo.

Donnelly said he ordered the bust only after making sure that the occupants in both vehicles clearly knew one another and were moving toward the same destination.

Newton and Howard stopped occasionally as they drove toward Houston so that they could talk, Donnelly said.

``Based on the information we had and the actions we observed ... I felt there was probable cause to stop the vehicles,'' Donnelly testified.

DEA agents, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and an officer from the Palmer Police Department searched the vehicles, officials said.

At the hearing Friday, Freeman-Canady was released to home detention in Jacksonville. No other drug charges were pending against him. A detention hearing for Howard was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.