Former Rice College Football Player Charged in Death of Teammate

Texas federal prosecutors in Houston indicted a former Rice University football player, Stuart “Mooch” Mouchantaf, for possessing and distributing a potent opioid, carfentanil, to his teammate, Blain Padgett, who died of an overdose in March 2018. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas took Mouchantaf into custody, following a three-count federal grand jury indictment on Wednesday.

Padgett was a Rice University football player who, according to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, died on March 2, 2018 in his sleep due to the toxic effects of carfentanil, an analogue of the synthetic opioid, analgesic fentanyl, as reported by ABC-13 in Houston. Following the arrest, Rice University released the following statement:

“Out of respect for the legal process, the university does not have a comment on today’s federal arrest or on any possible details of the case.”

ABC-13 also reported that Blain’s father, Mical Padgett, said he believes his son did not know the pills he took were laced with carfentanil. According to prosecutors, Houston police investigators found that Blain allegedly bought the pills from Mouchantaf, believing that they were hydrocodone and not laced with carfentanil. According to doctors quoted by ABC-13, a lethal amount of carfentanil is invisible to the human eye and was originally made as an elephant tranquilizer. It is also “10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is deadly because it causes the brain to suppress breathing.” Assistant District Attorney Paul Fortenberry quoted that although the pills look like “the real deal,” they are actually “far more dangerous than even cocaine or heroin and are far less expensive.” He also likened taking the pill to “literally playing Russian Roulette.”

Police say that when Mouchantaf was originally charged last October, his bond was set at $250,000 because he was considered a flight risk. Police stated that he bought a one-way ticket to Lebanon at the time of his arrest. He was then ordered to surrender his passport and wear an ankle monitor. Blain’s former coach, David Bailiff, again expressed his remorse and regret, stating that it “makes you evaluate again as a man is there something else you could’ve done? Is there some other outreach that we could’ve led to?”

Padgett’s death came as a shock and devastated both the Rice University student body and the football team. He joined the team as a true freshman in 2015, during which Mouchantaf was a red-shirt senior after having sat out the 2014 season due to injury. Padgett was recovering from a shoulder injury from the fall of 2017, which required surgery and ended his season. He had aspirations of playing professional football. As a 6’5,” 250 pound defensive end, he recorded 65 tackles, three-and-a-half sacks, and a fumble recovery over 37 games during his collegiate career with the Rice Owls. He received a medical redshirt after playing just three games in the 2017 season, meaning he would have been eligible to play college football for two more seasons.

After passing away at the age of 21, his family vowed to remain outspoken to warn other families of his story.

“Don’t go a day without telling your kids and your parents, and your brothers, sisters that you love them, because you never know,” Padgett’s father stated.

As for Mouchantaf, he faces serious legal consequences for giving his former teammate carfentanil, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. In court on Friday, June 21, Mouchantaf  told U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray that he knew he was facing 43 years to life in prison on charges that he conspired to possess and possessed with intent to deliver the opioid mixture.

According to Mouchantaf’s LinkedIn profile, he has vast volunteering experience as a community volunteer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Red Cross, and other volunteer organizations involving both the medical field and children. He was voted by teammates as a team captain in 2015 and was voted the team’s MVP as well as their “O.J. Brigance Courage Award” by his coaches following that season. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Exercise Science in 2016. In his final semester, he was a member of Rice’s prestigious Sports Medicine and Houston Medical center Physical Therapy Program, which “assists in rehabilitation across all university sports” at Rice.

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