FBI outlines case against J. Lewis

OWINGS MILLS – Law enforcement officials testified Wednesday regarding federal drug conspiracy charges against Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis, using audio and videotapes in a hearing at U.S. District Court in Atlanta to build their case.<br>

Lewis, 24, was charged Feb. 26 with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine and using a cellular phone in the commission of a drug crime as part of an FBI investigation into drug activity in an Atlanta project. 

FBI agent Mark Webster testified that Lewis' co-defendant, Angelo "Pero" Jackson, admitted to his involvement in a drug deal with Lewis and a female informant for the government.

"Jamal told me that she has the kilos," said Webster, recounting Jackson's statement when he was arrested four years ago. "Man, they're gonna kill me. They're gonna kill me."

Both Lewis and Jackson, a childhood friend, have pleaded not guilty and no trial date has been set. Lewis didn't attend the suppression hearing, but Jackson did.

Prosecutors played tapes in court that didn't show Lewis on videotape, nor was he present at Jackson's arrest. Jackson and the informant made references to a third person named Jamal, but didn't specify the last name of the Ravens' Pro Bowl runner.

Jackson's lawyer, Steve Sadow, told reporters that he believes the informant will testify at trial that it was Lewis was who was being referred to on the tapes.

There was no immediate resolution to lawyers' motion that U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Walker throw out the alleged statement Jackson made to the FBI. The judge will consider it, though. court officials said.

Videotape revealed a meeting between Jackson and the informant in an Atlanta apartment on July 19, 2000. Jackson views several kilograms of cocaine that the informant brought to him and makes an offer to buy the drugs later on.

The dialogue:

"You want me to call Jamal?" Jackson asks the informant, allegedly referring to Lewis.
The woman responded, "He came. Did he tell you when he came, that kid?"

There was also an audiotape of a conversation between Jackson and the informant later that evening where Jackson said he would soon buy the cocaine and allegedly made another reference to Lewis.

"They're on their way over there," Jackson said.
"Oh, Jamal?" the informant asks.
"Yeah," Jackson responded.

Lewis was indicted Feb. 25, arraigned and processed the next day. 

Both defendants' lawyers have argued that the informant entrapped their clients. The informant has an extensive criminal background and has been paid to assist the government for years.

"This is part of her deal to try to get other people indicted, to work off her other cases," said Don Samuel, who represents Lewis along with Ed Garland.
The judge ruled that lawyers for Jackson and Lewis will be able to review most of the audio tapes gathered by the informant during related and unrelated drug cases.

The defense has already been granted access to dozens of tapes.

Lewis rushed for a league-high 2,066 yards last season, the second-most in NFL history behind Eric Dickerson, and was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year.

The government has alleged that Lewis helped broker a major cocaine deal in the summer of 2000 before signing a six-year, $35.3 million contract with the Ravens after being drafted fifth overall out of the University of Tennessee.

The Ravens have stood behind Lewis since his indictment and arrest and said they expect the Pro Bowl runner to be available this season. Lewis is free on bond and allowed to travel anywhere in the country.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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