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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.