Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hurd changes lawyers, will plead not guilty

San Antonio's Sam Hurd, who played for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, has changed lawyers and plans to plead not guilty in his federal drug-trafficking case this week, his new lead attorney said.

On Friday, Hurd, 26, replaced David Elliott Kenner and Brett Allen Greenfield of California with Michael McCrum of San Antonio and Jay Ethington of Dallas.

Both are former assistant U.S. attorneys - McCrum in the San Antonio-based Western District of Texas and Ethington in the Dallas-headquartered Northern District of Texas.

"We filed a motion entering the case, and we'll be waiving (Hurd's) arraignment," McCrum said.

A waiver of arraignment allows a defendant to forgo attending the federal court proceeding - Hurd is charged in Dallas - and a not-guilty plea is entered.

Hurd was arrested in a Dec. 14 sting at a Chicago steakhouse, accused of possessing a kilogram of cocaine and making a deal with an undercover agent.

Authorities allege he and Toby Lujan, 26, of Dallas were trying to set up a large-scale distribution network.

Hurd, who starred at Brackenridge High School in San Antonio, and Lujan were indicted Jan. 4 on charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine and attempt to possess cocaine. The conspiracy charge is punishable by 10 years to life, while the other count carries five years to 40 years in prison.

Lujan already has pleaded not guilty.

The government also wants to keep $88,000 and Hurd's 2010 Cadillac Escalade, both seized during the investigation, which began when Hurd was a backup wide receiver and special-teams standout for the Cowboys.

He signed with the Bears last summer in free agency. The Bears cut Hurd two days after his arrest. He's out of jail on $100,000 bond.

"Anybody that really knows him, knows this is not Sam Hurd the way the government's portraying him," McCrum said. "There's much more to the story. Sam has given the community his heart and soul. He's helped kids and volunteered his time.

Now Sam and his family ask the community to be there for them, and to not pass judgment so quickly."

McCrum is a former Dallas cop and had the support of Texas' Congressional delegation and the state's two Republican senators to be U.S. attorney for the Western District. But he withdrew his name in October 2010 after the White House failed to nominate him after several months.

McCrum, who was head of the drug unit and major crimes section at the U.S. attorney's office, has had his share of high-profile cases as a defense lawyer, including some noteworthy wins.

He helped win acquittal - in less than 45 minutes - for San Antonio defense lawyer Alan Brown, whose former office manager fell for a cocaine smuggler and, in an effort to win her lover leniency, told federal agents that Brown routinely cheated on his taxes.

Besides an acquittal, Brown and his lawyers won a rare settlement from the IRS of $1.34 million.

McCrum also won a not-guilty verdict for Mark Gudanowski, the former driver for Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed.

Gudanowski was charged in a federal case involving thousands of Southwest Airlines tickets stolen by a bailiff's wife, who worked for the airline. The tickets were sold by the bailiff and his wife at the Bexar courthouse and beyond, and some were resold.

By Guillermo Contreras,

Source: San Antonio Express


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