Ex-Alabama Basketball Player Freed

Friday, October 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama basketball player Kenneth Rice is free on $50,000 bond and will face a cocaine conspiracy charge in the multistate drug-smuggling case against former Crimson Tide running back Sherman Williams.

Rice surrendered to federal marshals Wednesday in Birmingham, and his case was moved to Mobile, where Williams awaits trial. Rice's preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 19.

Rice declined to discuss the charges by telephone Friday. His case will be presented to a federal grand jury.

According to the complaint, Rice gave Williams $30,000 to buy two kilos of cocaine while the former Dallas Cowboys player was in Texas. The two men met at a motel in Jackson, Miss., on April 19 to discuss the deal.

Frank James Freeman, who has pleaded guilty to marijuana charges and is cooperating with authorities, claims Rice paid him $1,200 drive to and from Texas to transport the cocaine.

Freeman said Williams attempted to purchase the cocaine, but when he left a Dallas apartment, Williams had not succeeded in making the buy.

Rice's trial date was not immediately set. If convicted, Rice, who played at Alabama 1990-92, could be sentenced up to 40 years in prison.

Juror misconduct forced a mistrial in the first prosecution of Williams. A new trial date will be set in November. If convicted, Williams also could be sentenced to five to 40 years in prison.

Williams played for the Cowboys, mostly as a backup tailback, during 1995-98. He returned to the Cowboys last year, but didn't make the team. Williams played on the Crimson Tide's 1992 national championship team.