Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis is expected to accept a plea bargain agreement in his drug conspiracy case at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans this week. Several reports have indicated that the hearing will be held on Thursday. However, no hearing was on Thursday's docket as of late Monday, according to the Associated Press.
"If that's the case, then he will miss Thursday's preparation [for Sunday's game at Washington], which is already a short week for us," Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said Monday night. "But we anticipate he'll play next Sunday night against the Redskins."
Under terms of the plea agreement, Lewis will plead guilty to using a telephone to facilitate a drug transaction, a source close to the negotiations said on Saturday. If Evans approves the agreement, Lewis will serve four months in a minimum security prison followed by two months in a halfway house.
Lewis could be subject to a suspension, fines or a combination of both from the NFL, though it is unclear whether any penalties would be enforced this season. A drug-related violation of the law is considered to be a violation of the league's drug policy and is grounds for disciplinary action.
Sentencing will not take place until 60 days after the trial of Lewis's co-defendant, Angelo Jackson, is resolved, the source said. However, this is a binding plea, so the judge must either accept it or deny it. The terms cannot be altered by the judge.
Lewis was indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges in February, and his trial was set to begin on Nov. 1, in between the eighth and ninth weeks of the season. He and Jackson, a childhood friend, were charged with conspiring to possess, with the intent to distribute, five kilograms of cocaine and using a cell phone in the commission of that act. An additional charge of attempting to possess cocaine was added in August.
A conviction on the principal charge would have resulted in a mandatory sentence of at least 10 years.
Lewis said on Saturday that he was not aware of a plea agreement and that he had not spoken with his lawyers.
The plea agreement is not contingent on Lewis testifying against Jackson, the source said on Saturday. However, Lewis could be called to testify in Jackson's trial.