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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 23, 2018

Tifton Drug Dealer Held Accountable For Heroin Overdose Death

            Charles E. Peeler, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces that on February 22, 2018, United States District Court Judge Leslie J. Abrams sentenced Bobby Earl Grantham, Jr., age 49, of Tifton, GA, to 150 months imprisonment for the offense of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Mr. Grantham had pled guilty to the offense on March 1, 2107.  The drug distribution conspiracy to which Mr. Grantham pled guilty lasted from October 2014 to August, 2015, and involved a total of twenty-one participants, all of whom have been convicted.

            On two occasions in the summer of 2015, a confidential source purchased heroin at the residence of Jimmy Barrentine. On one occasion, Mr. Grantham sold the heroin. On the other, Mr. Barrentine sold the heroin. On July 16, 2015, Tift County 911 received a dispatch to the residence of Jimmy Barrentine in Tifton, Georgia. Upon arrival, agents found Sonya Tolar dead inside Bobby Grantham’s bedroom at Jimmy Barrentine’s house. Toxicology results from Ms. Tolar’s autopsy noted the presence of 6-monoacety1-morphine, a metabolite of heroin. The medical examiner lists the cause of death as heroin toxicity. Agents located Ms. Tolar’s cell phone while processing the scene after her death. This revealed that a few hours before the 911 call, Mr. Grantham texted a photo of the heroin to Ms. Tolar to entice her to visit him.  Shortly after receiving this text message, Ms. Tolar traveled to meet Mr. Grantham at Mr. Barrentine’s residence, where she died.

            Mr. Grantham’s sentence was also enhanced based on his engaging in obstruction. At his sentencing, the Court heard evidence that after Mr. Grantham discovered that Ms. Tolar had overdosed, he waited over 30 minutes before calling for emergency assistance. He and others spent the interim time period removing evidence from the residence so that it would not be discovered by the authorities.

            “Opioid distribution has been declared a national epidemic,” said United States Attorney Peeler. “Federal law carries stiff penalties for those who distribute drugs where death or serious bodily injury occurs. I hope that this sentence makes it clear that we do not tolerate the harm that this behavior causes in this district and that we are committed to doing all within our power to address and combat this epidemic. Mr. Grantham’s obstructive actions cannot be condoned. Ms. Tolar’s life might have been saved if he had valued her life more than his freedom.  This lengthy sentence is richly deserved.”

             This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Macon Division, GBI Sylvester, Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office, Tift County Sheriff’s Office, and Mid South Narcotics Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Leah E. McEwen prosecuted the case for the United States.

             Questions concerning this case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603.

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Component(s): 
Updated February 23, 2018