New defense team enters plea for ex-Bear Hurd

January 23, 2012 2:26:24 PM PST
Former Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd on Monday afternoon entered a plea of not guilty to federal drug conspiracy charges.

The plea was filed electronically, allowing Hurd to avoid a media scrum that was certain to accompany his scheduled court appearance in Dallas on Wednesday.

Monday's court e-filing is the first move by Hurd's new legal defense team. As the I-Team reported on Sunday, ex-Bear Hurd has hired two heavyweight lawyers from Texas where the federal drug prosecution is based. Both defense attorneys are former federal prosecutors and well-versed in high-profile criminal cases.

Sam Hurd was arrested in a federal sting outside a Rosemont steakhouse on Dec. 14, after dining with an undercover FBI agent and an FBI operative. Hurd allegedly had just purchased a kilo of cocaine and made a deal to deliver more.

He was initially represented by two attorneys from California, Brett Greenfield and David Kenner. They handled the NFL player's initial appearance at the Dirksen Federal Building and as recently as last week spoke on behalf of the Bears second-stringer.

Hurd's new attorney is Michael McCrum from San Antonio. That is where Hurd grew up and was a high school football star. McCrum will be the lead counsel on the case and will be assisted by veteran attorney Jay Ethington of Dallas, where the prosecution is based.

Hurd's co-defendant, 26-year old Dallas resident Toby Lujan, has already pleaded not guilty. The indictment charges that Lujan and Hurd were aiming to establish a lucrative drug business in Chicago and Texas. The men face conspiracy charges that are punishable by 10-years to life in prison. McCrum began his career as a Dallas police officer but made his mark as an attorney and has vast experience handling cases such as Hurd's. He formerly ran the fed's drug and major crimes prosecution squad in San Antonio.

At one point, McCrum was considered to have a rising political star. The White House named him in 2010 as a candidate for the United States Attorney in the Western District of Texas. McCrum withdrew from consideration after the potential nomination became bogged down.

In the Hurd drug case, why Greenfield and Kenner were replaced is unclear and neither attorney responded to our request for an explanation. One of the newly retained lawyers, Jay Ethington, tells the I-Team that such a change is "typical and without controversy."