SEATTLE (AP) -- After more than two decades on the lam, former freestyle ski star Michael Lund has pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle 37 tons of marijuana into the United States.

Lund, 65, admitted Friday to conspiracy to distribute marijuana as federal prosecutors dropped related charges.

Under the plea bargain, the government will recommend three years in prison for Lund when U.S. District Judge John Coughenour sentences the defendant Nov. 16.

Lund -- graying, balding and using reading glasses to read court documents -- had been scheduled to stand trial Monday.

"He pleaded guilty because he is guilty," said his attorney, Richard Troberman.

Lund was the 10th and final person convicted in the Coast Guard seizure of 37 tons of Colombian marijuana in 1978.

Lund acknowledged plotting in 1978 to bring a huge crop of marijuana from Colombia aboard the freighter Helena Star for sale in the United States.

He bought the 61-foot racing sloop Joli to ferry the pot from the freighter to his home in Sequim. He also bought a barge and tug to aid in the offloading.

The Helena Star left Columbia with pot worth roughly $75 million in its hold. Authorities say Lund took the Joli to the freighter several times, carrying food and supplies to the freighter and once returning to Sequim with what court documents describe as "more than 1 ton of marijuana."

That April, the Coast Guard boarded the Helena Star -- then 130 miles off the state coast -- and seized 37 tons of pot. Members of the crew were arrested, but Lund fled.

Decades ago, Lund was a world champion in the then-fledgling sport of freestyle skiing. His specialty was the ballet category, and many credit him with creating a professional association of freestyle skiers.

When he fled Washington in 1978, Lund headed south. He worked in construction and as a motel clerk. He had a fishing business in Santa Barbara in the early 1980s and a glider business in Jackson Hole, Wyo., nearly 10 years later.

Both ventures failed, and he declared bankruptcy in 1993.

Using the name Steven McCain, he remarried and had two sons. He left the family after the second child's difficult birth, and he and his wife divorced in 1990.

The failed marriage led to his arrest.

In May, his ex-wife took him to family court in Denver, saying he owed child support for their now-teenage sons. A judge held him in contempt, and Lund was fingerprinted.

After a computer matched McCain's prints to Lund, he was arrested by federal marshals at a cut-rate Denver motel.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A12.