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Ex-NFL player gets probation on drug charges

October 16, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man who played professional football for several years was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation after he pleaded guilty to selling 228 grams of marijuana last summer.

Before he was sentenced, Fulton Walker Jr., who played in Super Bowl XVII in 1983 with the Miami Dolphins, addressed U.S. District Court Judge W. Craig Broadwater.

Walker said he feels sorrow he has hurt friends, family members, loved ones and the community.

"I am a much better person today than I was then," he said.

Along with the five-year probation term, Walker must serve six months of home confinement. He originally faced up to five years in prison.

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After the hearing, Walker shook hands and hugged some people who sat behind him in the courtroom. He said he can still work with children, but his coaching career is basically over.

He is now drug- and alcohol-free, he said.

"I'm clean now and I'm going to stay clean," he said. "Now I'm going to put the rest in the Lord's hands."

Three months ago, Walker pleaded guilty to one count of information charging him with selling the marijuana. A count of information comes from the U.S. Attorney's Office, unlike an indictment, which is handed down by a grand jury.

Walker was accused of selling the marijuana on July 30, 2001.

During his probation, Walker must submit to drug tests. Broadwater asked Walker if he understood that a positive test means Walker will be put in prison. Walker said he understood.

"You have the keys to your own confinement in your hand," Broadwater told Walker.

Walker must also attend a substance abuse and mental health treatment program and pay a $1,000 fine and all electronic monitoring costs.

U.S. Attorney Paul Camilletti said the government recommended a light sentence for Walker, saying he cooperated with authorities and accepted responsibility for his actions. Walker's attorney, Paul Lane, said the damage done to Walker's reputation has been a punishment worse than anything the government could impose.

Of all his clients, Lane said, "I believe Mr. Walker is probably the most sincere in his remorse."

Rick Pill, a local attorney and member of the Berkeley County Board of Education, testified about Walker's character at Lane's request.

Pill said he performed some real estate-related legal work for Walker, but befriended him when the two played recreational softball together.

"I would describe Fulton as ... he's a kind person," Pill said. "He's a gentle person."

Pill also called Walker calm and humble.

When asked if he had any thoughts on Walker receiving a sentence of probation rather than prison, Pill said that Walker is honest and trustworthy, two important things to consider.

"The people who are around him now are good people," he said.

Pill said he never saw Walker use or possess drugs.

Walker played for the Miami Dolphins from 1981 to 1985, according to the team's Web site. In Super Bowl XVII against the Redskins, Walker ran a kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown, a record that stood for many years.

Walker still holds Super Bowl records for most kickoff yards gained during a career and the highest kickoff return average for a game, along with a Dolphins record for most kickoff returns during a career, with 123.

After playing for the Dolphins, Walker played one year with the Los Angeles Raiders.

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