Eight year sentence on federal drug convictionsBy Brent Curtis
In his final petition to the court before he was sentenced to serve more than eight years in jail on two federal charges, convicted drug dealer Jewel Hurt argued Wednesday that he was not a violent criminal.
But federal prosecutors responded by saying that during his final year of distributing heroin and cocaine in Rutland, Hurt traded drugs for a gun that ended up in the hands of a man who was later fatally shot by police. Hurt was nearly shot himself by a drug addict who fired a round while trying to rob him of money and drugs at a motel in the city, prosecutors said.
Hurt, 37, was sentenced to serve 100 months behind bars Wednesday by a federal judge who accepted the terms of a plea agreement that convicted the Rutland man of conspiracy to distribute heroin and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The deal dropped three other drug-dealing counts and a charge of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
In a pre-sentencing memo filed last week by a defense attorney, Hurt argued that he didn’t deserve the firearms charge because he never engaged in that kind of “craziness.”
“At no time did he possess a gun to further the drug enterprise,” wrote Burlington attorney Frank Twarog. “He truly believes that the government has treated him on the same plane as individuals that Jewel himself regards as ‘hard core criminals’ and feels that his sentence is more than necessary to punish his wrongdoings.”
One of the “hard-core” criminals that Hurt was compared to in Twarog’s filing was Sean Miller, a 45-year-old Bronx, N.Y., man who was also sentenced to serve 100 months in jail on federal charges that included his attempted robbery of Hurt at the Rodeway Inn on Woodstock Avenue in July 2011.
Witnesses said Miller fired a handgun while struggling with Hurt, according to a memorandum filed in U.S. District Court and a statement issued Wednesday by the U.S. attorney’s office.
Federal prosecutors responded to Hurt’s petition to the court by pointing out that Hurt was classified as a career offender due to prior criminal convictions and by arguing that Miller might not have tried to rob Hurt if he wasn’t engaged in dealing drugs.
“It is doubtful ... that Mr. Miller would have even robbed Mr. Hurt if Mr. Hurt was not dealing drugs,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella.
“Rather, Mr. Hurt chose to make himself an attractive robbery target by being a drug dealer with cash and drugs on hand,” the prosecutor wrote.
Federal prosecutors said it wasn’t the first time someone tried to rob Hurt for his drug proceeds. The first time ended in a fatality, prosecutors said.
In late October 2010, Hurt was robbed at gunpoint during an unreported home invasion at Hurt’s former West Street address in Rutland. Along with the drugs and money taken from Hurt, was a Cobra .380 pistol that federal prosecutors said he had accepted as payment for cocaine from one of his customers.
Days after that incident, the man who robbed Hurt, 36-year-old James Lamont of Troy, N.Y., was cut down by bullets outside of a Stewarts convenience store at the corner of State and Grove Streets after he drew the stolen handgun from his pants and pointed it toward police.
“This case unfortunately illustrates the dangerous mix of drug dealing and guns,” U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin said Wednesday. “Guns that are traded for drugs do not usually end up being used for legitimate lawful purposes. Here, a gun traded for drugs eventually ended up in the hands of a dangerous person who came perilously close to shooting at a law enforcement officer.”
He added, “Our office intends to vigorously prosecute these firearm and drug crimes as they put the community at great risk.”
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