Former football star gets 10-year sentence

Friday, June 6, 2008

A 32-year-old Chapel Hill man, who turned down a football scholarship at Auburn University when he played for Forrest High School, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison as a result of his guilty plea on drug charges.

Patrick McCord of Rogers Street was arrested by the 17th Judicial Drug Task Force on May 18, 2007 when the agents confiscated 16.8 grams of cocaine which, according to Task Force Director Tim Lane, had a street value of approximately $1,700.

McCord's lawyer, Bill Haywood, said his client was a "typical good kid with everything going for him," but that he made bad choices. An early mistake was not taking Auburn's offer to put the former running back and linebacker in summer school after his junior year so he could play college ball.

McCord testified to Judge Robert Crigler that he was tired of school and decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps. While in North Carolina with the Corps, McCord pleaded no contest to a child abuse charge, according to statements in open court.

That conviction was one of several reasons Crigler denied Haywood's motion to grant McCord probation or some other form of alternate sentencing

Now, McCord is in his 97th day of a 110-day term handed down by Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell for nonpayment of child support, Haywood said. Thereafter, McCord is to be transferred from the Marshall County Jail to a classification center run by the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

McCord had been serving 70 days on weekends as directed by Russell, but he skipped several weekends because, as he testified, he "heard through the grapevine" that convicts didn't have to serve weekends if they had a job to work.

"That's a bunch of bull," Crigler told McCord as he pronounced the prison term. Such a "cavalier" attitude was probably why Judge Russell increased McCord's term for nonpayment of child support.

Still, McCord's fiancée testified as a character witness for him, and a couple of former employers took the stand to say if he was granted probation, then they'd have a job for him.

Yet, the judge noted that McCord had been caught "red handed" with cocaine during a traffic stop and during the hearing the convict testified that while he couldn't remember exactly, he probably had made about 50 drug sales in an attempt to raise money to support his children. The sales might have brought in about $4,500, McCord said.

Haywood said McCord entered the hearing with the prospect of a sentence ranging from eight to 12 years.