High-Profile Attorney to Defend Crowell

ATHENS -- Facing two felony gun charges, former Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell will be represented by a high profile Atlanta attorney.

Crowell's defense will be led by Steve Sadow, a nationally known criminal defense lawyer.

"It is confirmed," Sadow said when reached by phone Tuesday.

Sadow former clients include rapper Clifford Harris (also known as T.I.) and Joseph Sweeting, a co-defendant in the 2000 double murder case involving linebacker Ray Lewis.

He declined to discuss specifics of Crowell's case.

"I need to accumulate the details of the case first," he said.

Crowell, 19, was arrested in the early morning hours June 29 after encountering a police check point on the University of Georgia campus. The smell of marijuana led to a search of Crowell, the driver of the vehicle, and his four passengers, all members of the Georgia football team. The officers did not find marijuana, but did find a handgun with the serial number altered under the driver seat.

Crowell was charged with two felonies -- possession of a weapon on school property and criminal use of an article with an altered identification mark -- and a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

Crowell was released on bond later that day and dismissed from the football team by coach Mark Richt hours later.

For Sadow, there is previous history with both high-profile clients and cases with firearms involved.

In the case of Harris (also known as T.I.), Sadow was successful in the defense of a federal firearms case.

And Sadow has defended a student-athlete connected to the University of Georgia before.

He advised former basketball player Tony Cole, the person at the center of the investigation of cheating and scandal within the Georgia basketball program in the early 2000s.

Cole, defended by Sadow, was acquitted on rape charges in 2002.

Former Athens solicitor general Mo Wiltshire says there is a good case to be made in Crowell's defense.

"I see some potential big problems," said Wiltshire, who spent time as a prosecutor and now has a private practice. "I can see just looking at the police report in terms of potential defenses, there are some questions there."

Wiltshire said the fact that no marijuana was found on any persons or in the vehicle, "was a red flag," in terms of cause for the search.

And while the missing serial number was a troubling issue to Wiltshire, tying the gun explicitly to Crowell could be problamatic.

Also, Wiltshire said, the charge of possessing a gun on school grounds is worth disputing because Crowell was traveling on a road that went through campus.

"If I'm Isaiah Crowell and his family and I'm hiring a high-priced lawyer from Atlanta I'm going to expect that's going to be some of the things that are looked into," Wiltshire said.

Kim Stephens, an Athens-based attorney who has represented student-athletes in the past, says Crowell isn't likely to serve time in prison if convicted.

"My view is it's a probation case because he doesn't have any criminal history," Stephens said. "Even though there's a minimum sentence of a few years in jail if convicted, a judge can probate those so he could serve them on probation as opposed to confinement."

Stephens defended Georgia basketball player Billy Humphrey in 2007 when he was charged with felony possession of a weapon on school property.

Due to his experience, Stephens doesn't see a judge in Athens using Crowell to set a tough example -- furthering his view that Crowell won't receive jail time.

"I don't think any of our judges would do that in a case like this," Stephens said. 'You're not talking about attempted robbery or any showing of the firearm in a crime. It's just a gun under the seat. I don't think for a second a judge would use this to set an example."

Wiltshire agrees with Stephens in that Crowell likely won't serve time.

"I'm not saying it can't happen, but I've never had a client in this kind of case go to prison," he said. "I've been doing this a long time. I haven't seen incarceration."

Crowell, meanwhile, must figure out his football future while dealing with the charges and court schedule.

His options include playing for a junior college or finding a FBS-level team that is willing to take a chance on him.

With his once-promising career hanging in the balance, a speedy resolution is in Crowell's best interest, according to Stephens.

"You have different time considerations that he has to deal with," Stephens said. "I would expect him not wanting to have to potentially sit out a second year. It's best to resolve it."

Crowell rushed for 850 yards as a freshman in 2011. Where and when he'll play again is still undetermined. But it's now known that Sadow will defend him, taking one step toward reclaiming his life away from the football field.

"Whether it's his gun or not is not the issue," Stephens said. "The issue for him is to get his life back on track. That's what he needs to be doing right now."

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