By Jeff Lund
junior tight end
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday December 5, 2002
Levasseur jailed on charge of possessing 87 lbs. of pot
The football player head coach John Mackovic called a disgrace to his family was arrested Tuesday in Henry County, Ill., on charges of possessing 87 pounds of marijuana. Police discovered the marijuana in a vehicle driven by junior tight end Justin Andrew Levasseur, according to Illinois State Police reports.
Levasseur, 22, who is from Antioch, Calif., was stopped for speeding at 9:16 a.m. on Interstate 80 in a rented 1990 Ford box truck, reports stated.
The marijuana could have had a street value of up to $150,000. Possessing that much of the illegal substance is a felony, said Sgt. Thomas Burek of the Illinois State Police Department.
Levasseur has been charged with trafficking more than 5,000 grams of marijuana and manufacturing and delivering more than 5,000 grams of marijuana. Both are class 10 felonies in Illinois, which means they typically carry penalties of between six and 30 years in prison.
Burek was not certain how the arresting officer discovered the marijuana or how it was packaged.
Levasseur had his initial court appearance in Henry County Circuit Court on Tuesday. Bail was set at $300,000.
Two of his teammates had not heard about the arrest, but said that based on Levasseur's character, they were surprised.
"It sounds unbelievable," senior wide receiver Bobby Wade said.
"I'm pretty sure there is a lot more to it. Based on his character, this really surprises me."
"I had no idea about this and it really surprises me," fellow tight end senior James Hugo said.
A passenger riding with Levasseur, Max Necochea, 22, of Mission Viejo, Calif., was arrested for unlawful use of weapons and marijuana trafficking.
Both were being held in Henry County jail as of yesterday.
Burek said he did not know the relationship between Levasseur and Necochea or why the two were in Illinois at the time.
Levasseur made news after Mackovic called Levasseur "a disgrace to his family" when the tight end missed a block in a November loss to UCLA. The remark stirred emotions that led to a meeting between more than 40 football players and President Pete Likins, and prompted an apology by Mackovic.
In a release issued yesterday, Mackovic said he was aware of the situation, but did not comment in detail.
"I am aware of the situation and I have spoken with Justin's parents," Mackovic said. "University of Arizona athletics director Jim Livengood and I will speak with Justin and his family before any determination of his team status can be made.
"In legal matters, the athletics department has prescribed a course of investigation and review committed to the student-athlete's welfare and rights."
Dean of Students Melissa Vito, who wasn't aware of Levasseur's arrest, said most criminal cases usually fall outside the jurisdiction of the university but, depending on the threat posed to the UA, disciplinary action can be taken.
She said she would have to know the circumstances of Levasseur's arrest to comment further.
This season, Levasseur played in 12 games and caught 11 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns came in Arizona's lone conference win, against California, one week after Mackovic's comment to Levasseur.
Jose Ceja and Maxx Wolfson contributed to this report.