News and Press Releases




Aug. 17, 2011

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A Kansas City, Kan., man has been sentenced to life plus 10 years in federal prison for distributing heroin that caused overdose deaths of users in Wyandotte, Johnson and Leavenworth counties, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Verdale Handy, 40, Kansas City, Kan., was convicted on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin causing death or serious bodily harm, six counts of distributing heroin, one count of maintaining a residence at 1012 Cleveland Avenue in Kansas City, Kan., for the purpose of distributing heroin, one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of attempting to kill a witness and one count of discharging a firearm with intent to kill a witness.

During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that from 2007 to 2009 Handy led a drug trafficking organization that provided heroin to users in Kansas City, Overland Park, Lenexa, Olathe and other cities in Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties. The organization catered to drug addicts who were prior users of Oxycodone, Oxycontin and methamphetamine, as well as minors attending high school who were graduating to using heroin. The Handy organization was selling heroin that was 50 percent pure, which added to the danger of overdose because heroin more often is sold in a form that is only 10 to 15 percent pure.

Investigators identified stash houses where heroin was sold at 5915 Cernech, 1012 Cleveland and 1226 Waverly in Kansas City, Kan., and monitored sales made at a fast food restaurant in Overland Park, a gas station in Overland park, a basement in a home at 3029 North Bethany in Kansas City, Kan., and an apartment in Olathe, as well as other locations. They also documented the chain of events leading up to the death of heroin user Lauri Sierk, who was found dead in November 2008, in Atchison, Kan., after buying heroin from the Handy organization.

Prosecutors also presented evidence about the events leading up to the shooting of Henry Nelson on May 17, 2009. Evidence showed that Verdale Handy contacted Nelson after Nelson was indicted in April 2009 on federal drug charges. Nelson agreed to meet Handy in hopes of obtaining money for cigarettes and food from Handy. Handy picked up Nelson and drove him to a cemetery near Springfield and Waverly in Kansas City, Kan., where Handy shot Nelson, who he accused of being a snitch. He left Nelson in the street bleeding from gunshot wounds. Nelson survived.

Grissom commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Atchison Police Department, the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Department, the Merriam Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, the Johnson County Sheriffs Department, the Johnson County District Attorney, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken and Erin Slinker, an intern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for their work on the case.



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