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Friend: J. Lewis was to share in drug deal proceeds

A hometown friend of Jamal Lewis' said in federal court yesterday that the Ravens star was to receive a share of the proceeds of a cocaine deal that the two had in the works in 2000.

The statement made by Angelo Jackson through his attorney appears to contradict assertions Lewis made in a plea bargain that the running back never anticipated receiving any drug proceeds.

Lewis pleaded guilty on Oct. 7 in Atlanta to using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime. His plea means he does not have to stand trial on an indictment alleging that he and Jackson brokered a drug deal during a series of encounters with a government informant during the summer of 2000.

As part of the plea, Lewis maintained "that at no time during these events did he possess cocaine, intend to possess cocaine, provide any money for the purchase of cocaine or expect to receive any money from the sale of cocaine."

But Jackson's attorney, Steve Sadow, said in an Atlanta courtroom yesterday that Lewis was to share in $4,000 in proceeds from a deal in which cocaine was to be purchased and resold.

Interviewed last night, Sadow said, "My client has told the government he would be more than willing to take a polygraph on whether Jamal Lewis was supposed to receive some of the money."

Donald Samuel, an attorney for Lewis, said last night that "there was no such agreement" for the Raven - who was about to sign his first NFL contract that summer - to receive any proceeds.

Jackson, who has known Lewis for years, was in court yesterday to plead guilty to attempting to possess with the intent to distribute 1 kilogram of cocaine. He is to receive a five-year prison term under the plea - assuming U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans formally accepts the plea at a January hearing.

Sadow offered his statement yesterday after federal prosecutors had outlined their case against Jackson. Prosecutors took no position in court on Sadow's assertion that Lewis was to share in the profits. No money was obtained because the deal was interrupted by Jackson's arrest.

Attorneys for Lewis weren't in the courtroom at Jackson's plea hearing yesterday.

Reached last night, Samuel said: "I'm not calling Angelo a liar. Maybe he thought he should have shared the profit, that he was obligated to. But Jamal didn't consider himself to have any financial stake."

Samuel said he did not believe that yesterday's statement has jeopardized Lewis' plea agreement. "The government, I think, knew that was what Jackson's statement was going to be. Jamal Lewis maintains he never had any financial interest, and the government accepted that."

Evans is to formally sentence Jackson and Lewis on Jan. 26. She has conditionally accepted both of their pleas, but still has authority to reject them if she finds the basis for the agreements is flawed. The men could then be subject to trial.

Acting U.S. Attorney Sally Quillan Yates could not be reached to comment last night.

If Jackson hadn't reached a plea deal, Lewis faced the prospect of being called as a witness - either by the government or the defense - at a trial that was to begin Monday.

Lewis in his plea agreed to a term of four months' prison time, two months in a halfway house and 500 hours of community service.

Besides receiving his prison term, which will be served after the football season, Lewis is in the midst of a two-game suspension imposed by the NFL.

He said after his plea hearing earlier this month: "I made a mistake four years ago when I was 20 years old and I'm paying for it."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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