A federal judge today agreed to release
on $100,000 cash bond, a day after he was charged with accepting a kilogram of
from an undercover federal agent posing as a drug supplier.
Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, Hurd had to post the full $100,000 in cash before he was released from custody later this afternoon. He next has to appear in federal court in Dallas for arraignment.
Hurd, whose ankles were in shackles in court, had spent the last two nights in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the South Loop, charged with conspiring to distribute a half a kilo of cocaine or more.
Hurd’s wife, Stacee, was present for the brief bond hearing and appeared to have tears in her eyes afterwards. Hurd’s lawyers ushered her into a conference room and told reporters she would not be talking to the news media.
Hurd’s lawyer, Brett Greenfield, told reporters as he left the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse that Hurd wanted to personally dispel rumors that he was dealing drugs to Bears teammates and other NFL players. Greenfield called those rumors “patently and totally false.”
"With respect to the rumors that he has been supplying drugs to other members of the NFL, out of respect to the NFL, out of respect to his teammates and other players, he 100 percent denies that allegation,” Greenfield said. “It is patently and totally false."
Earlier today, the Bears placed Hurd on waivers, the first step toward cutting him from the team.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Young Kim told Hurd he must "maintain or seek employment" while on bond.
“Yes sir,” Hurd answered in a deep voice as the judge listed each condition of his release and asked if he understood.
Hurd kept his hands clasped behind his back throughout the hearing.
Hurd was arrested Wednesday night as he dined at a high-end suburban steakhouse with an undercover federal agent and a confidential government informant, Hurd spoke of his desire to become a drug kingpin, authorities said.
The Bears receiver and special teams leader, who is earning $2 million this year on the football field, allegedly told his companions that he needed 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana every week. He was also allegedly looking for a cellphone from Mexico because he believed that it could help him evade federal wiretaps.
The dinner ended with one of the two supposed drug suppliers handing Hurd a bag allegedly containing 1 kilogram of cocaine.
As he allegedly placed the bag in his vehicle outside
in Rosemont, Hurd was quickly arrested. He now faces major federal drug conspiracy charges that have put his career in peril and also carry a hefty potential sentence of up to 40 years in prison. Unlike other athletes who have drawn headlines for relatively minor drug offenses, Hurd's case is striking in that the charges against him portray him as what cops would consider a major player in the drug world.
"There's disappointment right now with our entire football team," said Bears coach
, who indicated that the team became concerned Thursday morning when Hurd, 26, of Lake Forest, failed to show up for meetings. "He's still a member of the Bears. No one has really had a chance to talk to Sam."
In answer to a reporter's question, Smith said he was unconcerned that other players might be snared in the undercover probe, saying, "I'm surprised right now but really would be shocked if … I just know that no one else would be involved."
Hours later, the San Antonio native stood in a federal courtroom in Chicago, dressed in fashionable jeans and a dark gray T-shirt. A federal judge ordered that he remain in custody at least until Friday while his attorney and prosecutors worked out his release on bond.
Hurd, who has a three-year $4.15 million contract with the Bears, spoke in a low voice and stood ramrod straight before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young Kim on Thursday. "Yes, sir," he answered to a series of questions about whether he understood the charge against him.
Greenfield, of Los Angeles, said the married Hurd has never been "in a position like this in his life."
"He is very calm," said Greenfield, whose partner on the case once represented rapper
. "Sam has never been in any trouble. He is a good player and a good teammate."
Federal authorities said Hurd first came to their attention in July when the confidential informant tipped off agents that a man — later learned to be a Hurd associate — was attempting to coordinate the purchase of about 4 kilograms of cocaine in the Dallas area. The associate wanted to complete the deal that day so the buyer could transport the cocaine to a northern destination, authorities charged.
At the direction of authorities, the informant met with the Hurd associate. After the meeting, Dallas County police conducted a traffic stop of the Hurd associate and recovered $88,000 in cash and a marijuana plant, authorities said.
Hurd, who owned the vehicle pulled over by police, later reached out to federal agents and said he had placed the $88,000 into the vehicle and then turned over the vehicle to the associate — who worked at a car repair shop — for maintenance and detailing work, according to the charges. Hurd produced a bank statement that he said showed he had withdrawn the $88,000 from his account, but authorities said the statement did not back up his contention.
At the Wednesday meeting, Hurd negotiated with the informant to buy 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana a week for distribution in the Chicago area, authorities alleged. He agreed to pay $25,000 for each kilogram of cocaine and $450 a pound for the marijuana, meaning he was willing to fork over as much as $700,000 for narcotics each week, according to the charges.
Hurd told the undercover agent and informant that he and a partner distributed about 4 kilograms of cocaine each week in the Chicago area but that their supplier wasn't able to meet their needs, according to the criminal complaint.
Hurd also said his associate handled the majority of the deals, so he could focus on "higher end" deals, the complaint alleged.
After accepting the kilogram of coke from the informant, Hurd told the two that he plays for the Bears, gets out of practice about 5:30 p.m. and would pay them the next day, according to the charges. Bears players are paid on Thursdays.
Such undercover federal probes are usually carried out with hidden recorders and video cameras, though the criminal complaint didn't reveal if that was the case in the probe of Hurd.
News of Hurd's arrest saddened his former coach at NIU, where he caught 143 passes for 2,322 yards, second in school history, and scored 21 touchdowns.
In 12 years at the DeKalb university, Joe Novak didn't usually recruit as far away as Texas, but a former assistant coach recommended Hurd, and Novak said he took a gamble on the young, gangly kid who was "still growing into his body."
One of his fondest memories of Hurd was a 2002 game against
when Hurd, just a freshman, caught eight passes for 161 yards, helping the Huskies nearly upset the heavily favored Badgers in Madison.
"He became an instant player for us," Novak, who is retired, said in a telephone interview. "I respected the way he played the game. He worked hard at it."
While on the
, the team posted an interview with Hurd that touched on displaying the right attitude, handling pressure and wanting to make more money.
"I'm blessed," he said. "I make a good salary. I always will want to make more, but that comes with more years and more time."