Former D.C. Government Employee Pleads Guilty to Distributing Fentanyl
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former D.C. government employee with a prior conviction for murder pleaded guilty today to distributing the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, as well as illegally possessing multiple firearms.
According to court documents, while employed at the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in Southwest D.C., Darrell Marcellus Pope, 51, of Clinton, Maryland, sold fentanyl on multiple occasions in front of his office building. The DCRA is located within 1,000 feet of Amiden Bowen Elementary School.
Pope had a broad network of customers, including several who lived across the Potomac River in the Eastern District of Virginia. One of Pope’s customers, identified in court documents as A.D., regularly traveled from Woodbridge to buy heroin and fentanyl from Pope. On March 14, Pope sold drugs to A.D., who brought them back to Woodbridge. The drugs that Pope sold to A.D. ultimately caused the fatal overdose of a Lake Ridge woman.
Fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, is a Schedule II synthetic pain reliever that comes in the form of transdermal patches and lozenges. Fentanyl is also produced in clandestine labs both domestically and abroad. Illicitly produced fentanyl is often combined with heroin or other substances to increase potency or ad an opioid effect to an otherwise non-opioid drug. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioid-related deaths have increased dramatically since 2013. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2018, 32,000 persons in the United States died from overdosing on synthetic opioids.
Pope pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, and to being a felon in possession of firearms. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison when sentenced on March 20, 2020. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Timothy M. Dunham, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh is prosecuting the case.
The Prince William County Police Department provided significant assistance with this case.
Pope’s co-conspirator, Ronald Maxwell Gorham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl on October 29, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 21, 2020.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-355 (Pope) and 1:19-cr-320 (Gorham).