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Local

Ex-Huskie, current Bear Sam Hurd faces federal drug charges

Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd rushes between Minnesota Vikings defenders Oct. 16 during the second half of a game in Chicago. Hurd was in jail Thursday after authorities accused him of trying to set up a drug distribution network in the Chicago area and arrested him after he allegedly agreed to buy a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover agent.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd rushes between Minnesota Vikings defenders Oct. 16 during the second half of a game in Chicago. Hurd was in jail Thursday after authorities accused him of trying to set up a drug distribution network in the Chicago area and arrested him after he allegedly agreed to buy a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover agent.
Federal complaint against Sam Hurd

CHICAGO – Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd was locked up in federal custody Thursday and charged with trying to set up a drug-dealing network.

U.S. Magistrate Young Kim ordered Hurd, who played college football at Northern Illinois University from 2002-2005, held until at least today while prosecutors and defense attorneys work out bond details before he is sent to Texas to face charges. The handcuffed Hurd declined comment to a reporter before the hearing.

Asked whether he was still a member of the Bears, he said: “As far as I know.”

He shook his head when asked whether he had talked to anyone on the team.

Hurd was arrested Wednesday night after meeting with an undercover agent at a Chicago restaurant, according to a criminal complaint that says the player was first identified as a potential drug dealer over the summer while the NFL lockout was coming to an end.

Hurd told the agent he was interested in buying 5-10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana per week to distribute in the Chicago area, according to the complaint. He allegedly said he and a co-conspirator already distribute about four kilos of cocaine every week, but their supplier couldn’t keep up with his demands. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.

Hurd told the agent “his co-conspirator is in charge of doing the majority of the deals” while he focused on “higher-end deals,” according to the complaint.

Hurd agreed to pay $25,000 for each kilogram of cocaine and $450 a pound for the marijuana, according to the charges, and then said he could pay for a kilo of cocaine after “he gets out of practice.” He walked out of the restaurant with the package and was arrested.

The criminal complaint was filed in Texas, where the U.S. attorney said Hurd faces up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine if convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, or half a kilogram.

Hurd’s agent, Ian Greengross, did not return messages. The NFL said it was looking into the incident while the NFL Players Association declined to comment.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said the arrest was a disappointment and a “total surprise,” adding that Hurd was still a member of the Bears for now.

“Sam wasn’t in meetings this morning and that’s how ... we started searching, trying to find out why a player wouldn’t be here,” Smith said. “There was no tip-off, didn’t know it was coming.”

Meanwhile, teammates and friends of Hurd struggled to comprehend the allegations.

Bears wide receiver Roy Williams has been Hurd’s teammate since 2008, first with the Dallas Cowboys and now with the Bears. Williams’ locker is two stalls down from Hurd’s.

“I’m just shocked about the situation,” Williams said. “It’s a situation that I don’t want anyone to be in, especially a close friend or a teammate I’ve been playing with four or five years now. Especially a guy from Texas with a wife and daughter.

“It’s tough for me just because I’m not into drugs or anything like that. But I know it has to be tough for him because he has his family. That’s a choice that he made, and there’s consequences with the choices that you make.”

Bears defensive tackle Anthony Adams also was shocked. He said he first met Hurd at the Ed Block Courage Awards. Hurd was recognized by his fellow Cowboy teammates at the time for his contributions to the team.

“He’s a great guy, and everybody loved him [in Dallas] just like how they do here,” Adams said. “I just don’t know. ... [It’s] very surprising.”

Hurd, 26, played for five seasons with the Cowboys and is in his first season with the Bears. He has contributed mostly on special teams, playing in 77 games overall with six starts and two career touchdowns. He has played in 12 games this year, catching eight passes for 109 yards.

He caught 143 passes for 2,322 yards and 21 touchdowns during his four years at NIU under longtime coach Joe Novak.

“My NIU experience was great,” Hurd said last summer. “It was a big growing-up lesson for me. I would tell anybody to take a chance and take advantage of it. ... It was an awesome experience. It made me better as a man, and it gave me a chance to get out here and prolong my football career.”

The complaint says an informant tipped off authorities in Texas in July, leading to an investigation in which an unidentified acquaintance of Hurd’s “negotiated” for approximately five kilograms of cocaine on the player’s behalf. The acquaintance wanted to buy the drugs quickly to take it to a “northern destination that same day,” according to the complaint.

The Bears agreed to a three-year deal with Hurd reportedly worth up to $5.15 million, including a $1.35 million signing bonus and base pay this season of $685,000.

The deal was announced July 29 – the day after federal authorities said he had agreed to a “consensual interview” with Homeland Security investigators about $88,000 in cash that had been seized in a car he owned in the Dallas area. The money was inside a canvas bag that authorities said was covered in a plantlike material that tested positive for “properties of marijuana.”

The acquaintance told authorities that Hurd “routinely leaves large amounts” of money in his vehicles, while Hurd said the money was indeed his and that he had given the car to his acquaintance, a car shop employee, for maintenance and detail work.

Hurd showed authorities a bank statement he said showed he had withdrawn $88,000 from his account, but authorities said it did “not reflect the transactions and amounts” he claimed.

In 2009, four years into his NFL career, Hurd established a charitable organization – Running with the Hurd – aimed at mentoring kids. The organization sponsored a football camp in Harlingen, Texas, last year.

In 2008, Hurd’s sister, Jawanda Newsome, told the San Antonio Express-News that her brother was paying to fix up their parents’ home as well as covering his younger brother’s junior college tuition.

Newsome said she worried about her brother because he was prone to giving his money away.

“Everyone knows he has a generous heart and is not the kind of person to say no,” said Newsome, who didn’t immediately return calls Thursday. “I kind of get upset because people take advantage of him.”

• Shaw Suburban Media sports writer Tom Musick contributed to this report.

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