GULFPORT -- A former college administrator has notified federal court officials of his intent to plead guilty in a meth distribution case in which his co-defendant faces trial.
Morris Wilson Etheredge, 41, former academic dean at Virginia College in Biloxi, will change his plea Jan. 5 in U.S. District Court.
Judge Sul Ozerden set the plea date for Etheredge on Tuesday. He also announced the trial of James Corey Broussard, 35, will start Jan. 19 and is expected to last three days.
The men, both from Gulfport, are accused of buying two pounds of meth in Oakland, Calif., and trying to bring it with them to Harrison County.
Half the meth allegedly was concealed in a cereal box inside a duffle bag and the other half was in a clear container under the duffle bag when a state trooper stopped their vehicle late Aug. 5. Their eastbound vehicle was pulled over on Interstate 10 in Hancock County.
The trooper reported he stopped the car because it had left its lane twice and hit the rumble strip.
Etheredge told investigators he and Broussard had bought the meth for $13,000 from a man at the Marriott Convention Center, and said they had made the same drive to buy meth a few weeks earlier, a Homeland Security Investigations agent's sworn statement said. Etheredge also reportedly said he needed money to pay his bills, and the meth offered a source of income.
Etheredge first told drug agents he had been unemployed since February 2013. But at the time of his arrest, he was employed by Accreditation Alliance, a company that reviews documents on college accreditations, his attorney said in a recent hearing. He is a licensed nurse with advanced studies in dealing with patients who have dementia or Alzheimer's and has a serious health condition, his attorney said.
A court transcript shows Broussard's attorney has told the court Broussard was pursuing studies in nursing and was the caregiver for Etheredge.
Both men have been held without bond.
Etheredge has admitted he had used meth weekly for a year and Broussard said he'd used meth daily for about 10 years, detention orders show.
A grand jury indicted them Sept. 1. They are charged with one count each of conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute meth and interstate travel in aid of drug racketeering enterprises.
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.