O'Brien makes plea agreement for drug charges
BILLINGS -- Former Montana State University assistant head football coach Joe O'Brien has agreed to plead guilty to federal drug charges, The Billings Gazette is reporting in its Friday editions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernie Hubley filed a motion seeking a court date here next week for O'Brien to plead guilty. O'Brien faces charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, selling drugs within 1,000 feet of Montana State University, and 24 counts of money laundering.
The Gazette said court records show O'Brien has signed a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney's office. It still must be approved by a judge. The mandatory minimum sentence for conspiracy is five years in prison.
O'Brien was arraigned Wednesday in federal court in Butte, where he pleaded not guilty to the 27 charges.
Prosecutors said O'Brien ordered meth from a source in California and had it shipped to homes of two other people in Bozeman between January 2001 and Sept. 12, 2003. One of the homes is within 1,000 feet of MSU and the meth O'Brien is accused of supplying was distributed from there, investigators said.
O'Brien is accused of laundering a total of $13,391 personally or through a co-defendant by wiring drug proceeds from Montana to California.
O'Brien was arrested in September on state drug charges in Broadwater County. He was suspended with pay from MSU and then resigned a short time later.
He pleaded not guilty and had said he had been set up.
A native of Northern California, O'Brien was an All-American defensive lineman at Boise State in 1994, when he was voted the Big Sky Conference defensive player of the year.
He was charged with misdemeanor assault in 2000 and was warned by MSU administrators he would be fired if he got in trouble with the law again.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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