A cousin of Sam Hurd pleaded guilty to helping the former NFL player organize a cocaine ring, authorities said.
Jesse Tyrone Chavful, 46, of San Antonio, appeared Wednesday in federal court in Dallas and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, prosecutors said.
United States Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña said Chavful faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.
Sentencing is set for January 30, 2013. A trial date of December 3, 2012, is set for Hurd, who remains in custody.
According to plea documents filed in the Chavful case, from July 2011 through early June 2012, Chavful agreed to help Hurd acquire cocaine to sell to others.
Investigators said Chavful conspired with others to buy and sell cocaine and marijuana while playing professional football for the Dallas Cowboys, and the conspiracy continued after he began playing football for the Chicago Bears.
A federal indictment charges Hurd with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; two counts of attempting to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and two counts of committing a felony offense while on pre-trial release.
In Fall 2011, Chavful conspired with Hurd to obtain 10 kilograms of cocaine for Hurd to distribute to others, prosecutors said.
Investigators said that while Hurd was playing football for the Chicago Bears, he contacted Chavful and asked him to find 10 kilograms of cocaine.
Investigators said undercover informants met with Chavful at his T-shirt shop in San Antonio, where they said he negotiated for 10 kilograms of cocaine for Hurd.
On November 10, 2011, Chavful and an informant discussed drug loads going “north" to Hurd in Chicago. Chavful advised the CI not to worry about the payment because Hurd had money, but that Hurd could not be present when the drugs were delivered because of media concerns, prosecutors said.
Hurd is accused of meeting with Chavful at his San Antonio t-shirt shop and asking him to get him cocaine and marijuana in Spring 2012, while on pre-trial release for pending federal drug offenses.
In late May, Chavful met with an informant and agreed to buy five kilograms of cocaine and 200 pounds of marijuana, and told the CI that Hurd, whom he described as “the money,” was in on the transaction and ready to move, prosecutors said.
On June 6, 2012, federal law enforcement officers arrested Chavful after the informant and an undercover officer delivered the drugs to Chavful, authorities said.
Chavful admitted that he had phoned Hurd that day at the telephone number listed under “Big Sam” in his cell phone contacts, to let Hurd know about the drugs.
The third defendant in the case, Toby Lujan, 27, of Dallas, pleaded guilty on September 12, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. According to plea documents filed, Lujan admitted that in July 2011, he attempted to purchase several kilograms of cocaine for Hurd from an informant. Hurd gave Lujan $88,000 in cash to purchase the drugs and loaned him his Cadillac Escalade to conduct the transaction, investigators said.
Law enforcement officers stopped Lujan and said they seized the $88,000 from a canvas bag that contained marijuana residue.
Authorities said Lujan continued to contact the informant about acquiring cocaine for Hurd and in December 2011, the informant and an undercover federal law enforcement officer, posing as a drug trafficker, met Hurd at a Chicago steakhouse.
Hurd, who agreed to regularly purchase multiple kilogram quantities of cocaine from the CI and the undercover officer, accepted a kilogram of cocaine as a sample, and was arrested as he left the restaurant with the cocaine, prosecutors said. Lujan faces a statutory sentence of not less than five years or more than 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. His sentencing is set for December 12, 2012 before Judge Solis.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations is in charge of the investigation. Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Tromblay and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kull are in charge of the prosecution.