The starting point guard for the University of Akron men’s basketball team was released from the Summit County Jail on a $5,000 signature bond Friday night following his arrest on felony drug charges, his attorney said.
Alex Abreu, 21, pleaded not guilty to trafficking in marijuana, the most serious felony charge, and possession of marijuana.
Abreu and Austin Lee Durgala, 18, who also was arrested Thursday, made an initial video appearance Friday morning in Akron Municipal Court.
Durgala pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking in drugs and drug abuse involving marijuana. He was given a $5,000 signature bond by the magistrate, and was awaiting release Friday night, his attorney said.
Both men are scheduled for their next court appearance at 8 a.m. March 22 before Summit County Common Pleas Magistrate John Shoemaker.
Robert C. Meeker, one of Akron’s top defense attorneys, has been retained to represent Abreu in his criminal case.
Abreu, who has no previous criminal history, was held in custody much of the day Friday under justice system guidelines, Meeker said. The release came around 6 p.m. after jail officials received and reviewed the bond paperwork from municipal court.
According to Akron police, Abreu and Durgala were arrested at 4:30 p.m. Thursday after they accepted delivery of a package containing 5 pounds of marijuana.
The package had been intercepted at a local courier service, police said, after a K-9 unit detected the drug during shipment.
Undercover narcotics officers and U.S. Postal Service officials then delivered the package to Durgala’s residence on East Dartmore Avenue and made the arrests, police said.
Police have not released any additional details.
Meeker said he has not had a chance to speak to Abreu in detail about the circumstances of the arrest, or the evidence compiled by police, and declined to comment on case details at this early stage of court proceedings.
“In the meantime, a lot more will come to light about the facts,” Meeker said. “It’s just a very sad day for the university, for Coach [Keith] Dambrot, for the team and for Alex Abreu. It’s really a tragedy.”
Abreu, a junior from Puerto Rico, has been suspended from the team indefinitely, school officials said, as the Zips begin play for a Mid-American Conference men’s basketball championship.
The Zips, with a record of 24-5, were preparing for postseason play with their final regular season game Friday night at Rhodes Arena against archival Kent State (18-12).
Akron has the top seed for the MAC Tournament, which will start Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Zips already secured a spot in the tournament semifinals March 15 by virtue of winning the regular-season conference title, their second in a row.
Meeker said Abreu received no special treatment in court. He was granted a signature bond after court officials reviewed his history and found “no criminal background,” Meeker said.
Abreu has a residence in the community and “obviously has a lot of ties to the university and the people at the university,” Meeker said.
According to police records, Abreu lives on East Exchange Street.
His mother was contacted Friday afternoon on her cellphone but declined to comment on his arrest, she said, because she had few details.
Based on police comments that narcotics officers made during the arrests on East Dartmore, Meeker said he could not comment on whether the basketball player simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I really haven’t been able to get to those facts,” Meeker said. “I had only a very brief time with him and can’t really respond to that. I’m not sure I’d be able to anyway.”
Abreu and Durgala were booked at the county jail at 8:56 p.m. Thursday, jail records show.
Tom DiCaudo, former chief assistant city prosecutor, said it was too early to comment on case details.
“I haven’t had the chance to meet with him yet,” he said Friday afternoon. “We’ll be doing that in the next couple of days.”
DiCaudo will be assisted on Durgala’s case by co-counsel Reid Yoder.
Durgala’s mother also declined to comment on circumstances surrounding the arrest.
“It’s definitely too early, and there’s a lot more information I still need to gather,” she said.
University officials directed inquiries about the case to the Akron Police Department.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.