Former University of Utah running back Martel S. Black and his friend, Samuel A. Simmons, each pleaded guilty Tuesday to two federal cocaine charges, and each face at least five years in prison.
In exchange for his plea to two counts, Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Nelson agreed to drop seven other counts against Black.U.S. District Judge David K. Winder told Black, "You could go to prison for 80 years. That is a consecutive sentence on each of these charges. At any event, you're going to have to spend five years in prison because of the minimum mandatory term that accompanies a plea to count seven." Count seven is possession of a kilo of cocaine with the intention of distributing it.
Also, Black could be fined a maximum of $4 million and serve at least 10 years of a special parole on top of any ordinary parole time.
Winder pointed out that, of the five years mandatory sentence, there's "no way out of that. And between the 80 years and the five years, I don't know what it's going to be."
The judge cautioned Black, "Please don't enter a plea of guilty if you think you're going to get anything less than 80 years. Do you know that?"
Black replied, "Yes, I do."
Under a plea bargain agreement, in exchange for dismissing the other seven charges, Black must cooperate fully with an investigation of illegal drug activities, giving information about anyone he believes was involved.
The exception is that he does not have to testify about Crypts gang members, who live in the vicinity of his family's home in California.
Black agreed to take a polygraph examination on any drug-related matter at the request of the federal government. If he violates any terms of the agreement, the federal government can reinstate the remaining charges plus any other charges it may decide upon after further investigation.
Winder set sentencing for Jan. 3, 1989, at 8 a.m.
The charges are that on June 2, Black, who was at least 18 (he is 19 years old) distributed cocaine to a minor under 21 on the University of Utah property, and that on July 12, Black and Simmons possessed about one kilo (2.3 pounds) of cocaine with the intention of distributing it.
"I had it in my house, your honor," Black said of the cocaine. He said he was part of an intended transfer of the illegal drug.
Winder gave him permission to finish the quarter at the university, but warned him that he is not to have anything to do with others in the case. "That would be the worst thing you could do between now and Jan. 3, to goof up," the judge said.
In exchange for Simmons' guilty pleas, prosecutors dropped two charges.
Simmons pleaded guilty to the same count as Black, count seven. Simmons also pleaded guilty to count five, which accused him and Black of aiding in the distribution of cocaine on June 20. Black did not plead guilty on that charge.
Simmons' possible maximum sentence is 60 years, while the minimum mandatory is the same as Black's. His sentencing was set for half an hour after Black's.