Two local men were sentenced to federal prison for distributing fentanyl — the opiate blamed in more than 500 confirmed overdose deaths in Ohio last year, including 114 in Montgomery County.
Levar Stinson, 38, and Danny Gladden, 29, were sentenced this week to 10- and 5-year prison terms, respectively, by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose. “This type of drug cannot be tolerated in the public,” Rose told Gladden at his Friday sentencing on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl. Gladden had pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors.
The convictions are among the first fentanyl-related cases to reach Dayton’s U.S. District Court, according to assistant U.S. attorney Sheila Lafferty, but may not be the last. Some of the court documents in Gladden’s case remain sealed and Lafferty said federal efforts to reach higher up the distribution chain remain a priority.
Court documents said that in August 2014, Gladden “conspired with others to regularly and routinely sell controlled substances in Montgomery County, Ohio for personal profit. In particular, during this time, Mr. Gladden obtained quantities of fentanyl, cocaine and heroin which he and his associates knowingly and intentionally distributed for cash.”
Gladden’s 5-year sentence is the minimum for a crime that can be punished with maximums of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
Federal public defender Cheryll Bennett told Rose that Gladden had a “pretty rough childhood” and took the shooting death of his aunt when he was 12 years old very hard. Bennett said Gladden, having limited skills, took to the street to support himself and his family by selling drugs.
“I just apologize to my family and the courts,” said Gladden, also known as “Danny Boy.”
Rose denied Gladden’s motion to be released in September to see his newborn daughter, Gladden’s sixth child. Rose, who said he had concerns about Gladden’s re-entry into society, ordered Gladden to undergo a 500-hour substance abuse treatment and get vocational and educational training. “You are going to have to work at it,” Rose said.
Stinson was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison — five each for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and for using a weapon during a drug trafficking crime. Originally indicted on 17 counts, Stinson also struck a plea deal with prosecutors. Court documents indicate Stinson’s crimes happened from May through August 2014.
In 2014, Ohio had 1,245 fentanyl seizures — nearly double the 630 of second-place Massachusetts, according to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration statistics. The illicit opiod that officials say is produced in Latin American drug labs hit the Dayton region in late 2013, leading to a spike in heroin-related overdoses.
After the 114 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, the number of similar fatal overdoses was 37 through the first six months of 2015, according to Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger.
The coroner said the lower number of deaths can be attributed to the widespread use of naloxone, which removes opiates off brain receptors and allows an overdose victim to resume breathing.
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