Crime

Ex-college dean gets prison for meth found in cereal box

Morris Etheredge
Morris Etheredge

GULFPORT -- A former college administrator has been sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for drug distribution including 2 pounds of meth found in a cereal box and a duffel bag.

Morris Wilson Etheredge, a former academic dean of Virginia College in Biloxi, received a prison term of six years and 10 months Wednesday and was fined $6,000, court records show.

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden also ordered three years of probation.

Etheredge and a co-defendant pleaded guilty in January to possession with intent to distribute meth. The maximum prison term is 10 years.

Etheredge, 41, has told investigators his job at the college ended in February 2013; he said he needed money to pay his bills and meth offered a source of income.

He is a licensed nurse and had a different job at the time of his arrest, his attorney said in a court filing.

The meth came from Oakland, Calif., where Etheredge and a traveling partner had gone previously to make buys, documents show.

Etheredge was a passenger in a car driven by James Corey Broussard when they were pulled over Aug. 5 on Interstate 10. The car had just entered Hancock County when a state trooper noticed it left its lane twice and hit the rumble strip, an MHP report said.

Broussard, 35, appeared to be sleepy and told the trooper they had made a one-day trip "on a whim" to see a friend in San Francisco.

A background check showed Broussard's license was suspended.

A K-9 brought to inspect the car alerted on the front passenger door, near where the meth was found. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations joined the probe.

One pound of meth was concealed in a cereal box in a duffel bag and the other pound was in a clear container under the duffel bag, an HSI agent said in a criminal complaint.

Also, $1,000 and a small bag containign glass tubes and more meth were found under the front passenger seat.

Etheredge told investigators he and Broussard had made the same drive a few weeks earlier and bought meth for $13,000, the agent said.

Etheredge admitted he had used meth weekly for a year and Broussard said he'd used meth daily for about 10 years.

Broussard, who was pursuing studies in nursing, was the caregiver for Etheredge, who has a serious health condition.

An indictment filed Sept. 1 also charged them with interstate travel in aid of drug racketeering enterprises.

Etheredge and Broussard each accepted a plea agreement in January.

Broussard's sentencing is set for May 4.

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