A former University of Utah football player and another U. student pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple drug-related charges and to using firearms in the course of an attempted drug sale.
Martel Black, 19, and Samuel Simmons, 18, entered their not guilty pleas before U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce. Trial dates will be set Monday.The two students were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday.
The men face a total of five counts of distribution of illegal drugs, one count of possession with the intent to distribute, one conspiracy charge and two counts of using firearms in the course of a drug-trafficking crime.
Simmons's attorney, Gerald Mooney, asked Boyce to release Simmons over the weekend to attend a family reunion in Los Angeles.
The magistrate immediately and firmly responded, "No. He's not leaving the state."
Attorney Solomon J. Chacon requested that Black be permitted to work for his former employer, Industrial Supplies Corp., as a laborer. Boyce took the request under consideration.
Since the two men initially appeared before Boyce July 26, they have been held at the federal halfway house. They are released under supervision only to attend classes at the U.
Because the indictment accuses them of selling to a person under 21 and conducting the sale within the vicinity of a school, Black and Simmons could receive harsher penalties.
Black is charged with using or carrying a pump shotgun and two handguns and Simmons with using or carrying a pump shotgun in the course of attempting to sell cocaine.
Both are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
The indictment states that the undercover agents completed four purchases of cocaine from Black and/or Simmons and one marijuana purchase. A final attempted sell of cocaine involved one kilo (or 2.2 pounds) of cocaine, the court document says.
The defendants face a maximum possible penalties of 40 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of five years and a $2 million fine on the cocaine possession charge because of the amount of cocaine involved.
If convicted, the defendants would face additional five-year terms on each of the firearm charges. On each of the cocaine distribution charges and on the conspiracy charge, the defendants each face up to 20 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine.
Black also faces a penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the one distribution charge which involved marijuana rather than cocaine.
The two students were arrested along with three other individuals on July 12. All five subjects were booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on state charges and released the next day.
On July 2, a federal criminal complaint was filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office naming Black, Simmons and Darren Hughes.
However, Darren Hughes entered a guilty plea Wednesday to a single county of distribution of a controlled substance. Hughes is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Sam on Oct. 11.
The undercover drug investigation was conducted over a two-month period by the U. police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Black has been hailed as the most talented fullback ever to play at the U. He lead the team in rushing last season with 520 yards.