Ex-Rice football player pleads guilty in opioid death
HOUSTON (AP) — A former Rice University football player pleaded guilty to selling the drugs that a player fatally overdosed on in 2018.
Stuart Mouchantaf, 26, admitted Thursday to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, causing death, and possession with the intent to distribute, causing death, The Beaumont Enterprise reported. As part of Mouchantaf’s plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a third charge related to distributing a controlled substance on a university campus.
The charges stemmed from Blain Padgett’s death in March 2018. Authorities found Padgett, 21, dead in his apartment after his teammates noticed he had missed a morning workout. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences ruled Padgett’s death an accident due to effects of the synthetic opioid carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Federal prosecutors say that Mouchantaf supplied his former teammate with five pills, two of which he took before he died. Although they contained carfentanil, they were made to look like a prescription pain reliever containing acetaminophen and hydrocodone, U.S. Assistant Attorney Jason Corley said.
Mouchantaf’s guilty plea during his federal court hearing in Houston did not require him to specify whether he knew he was providing carfentanil, which was originally designed as an elephant tranquilizer.
Mouchantaf’s attorney, federal public defender Phil Gallagher, did not respond to a request for comment.
Mouchantaf’s sentencing is scheduled for May. He will remain on supervised release until then. He faces 20 years to life in prison and a $1 million fine.
Mouchantaf has been out on a $100,000 unsecured bond since his arrest on the federal charges in June. He was first charged in state court before the charges were elevated to the federal level.