Drug conspirator pleads guilty, but no link to KU is cited

An Overland Park man whom a federal prosecutor once accused of selling marijuana to some members of the University of Kansas basketball team pleaded guilty Wednesday to his role in a drug conspiracy.

But neither Samuel Villeareal III, 33, nor the prosecutor who made the initial allegation mentioned anything about a KU sports connection during the hearing in Kansas federal court.

Villeareal pleaded guilty to a single drug conspiracy count and faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.

“Are you pleading guilty today because you are indeed guilty as charged?” asked U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. O’Hara.

“Yes, sir,” Villeareal replied.

Authorities charged Villeareal and 43 others last year with conspiring over a four-year period to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of “high grade” marijuana in Johnson and Douglas counties.

The KU angle never was part of the main drug case, court records showed. However, it came up in a June detention hearing. At that time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead argued that Villeareal should be jailed pending trial.

Citing surveillance information and evidence seized from Villeareal’s iPhone, Morehead described him as a marijuana supplier to a number of individuals, “including a number of Kansas University basketball players from the 2010-2011 season.”

O’Hara declined to jail Villeareal pending trial and ordered him to stay in a halfway house instead. On Wednesday, Morehead said she did not object to Villeareal remaining free on bond pending his sentencing, noting that he had complied with his terms of release and remained drug free.