Federal Jury Finds Three Guilty In Fentanyl Distribution Conspiracy
Massive Overdose Outbreak in Murfreesboro Left One Person Dead and More than 20 Hospitalized
A federal jury in Nashville, Tennessee yesterday, returned guilty verdicts against three individuals on trial for their role in a deadly fentanyl distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee. After an 8-day trial, the jury returned the guilty verdicts against Joedon Bradley, 32, of Nashville, Tennessee, Johnny Williams, 32, and Jonathan Barrett, 30, both of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The jury found a fourth defendant, Jason Moss, not guilty on all counts.
“Nearly one third of drug overdose deaths in 2016 were the result of synthetic opioids, and drug traffickers can order them with a few clicks of a mouse," said Attorney General Sessions. "These drugs are so strong that a few grains of it can be fatal. Showing no regard for people's safety, the defendants mixed fentanyl into hundreds of pills, including some that killed at least one person and harmed countless others. I want to thank the DEA, the FDA, our fabulous state and local partners with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Murfreesboro Police, and the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office, as well as Department of Justice attorneys Amanda Klopf and Brent Hannafan for their hard work on this case. Their efforts have led to justice being served."
“The jury’s verdicts in this case will now hold these individuals accountable for seeking to profit from the devastating opioid epidemic that continues to plague communities across our nation,” said U.S. Attorney Cochran. “Long prison sentences for these individuals will soon follow. I commend the jury for seriously shouldering their responsibility and I thank our law enforcement partners and our prosecutors for their untiring efforts in bringing justice on behalf of the people of this district”.
This case began on July 6, 2016, when law enforcement and medical personnel in the Murfreesboro, Tennessee area were overwhelmed by a series of overdoses caused by pills that appeared to be prescription Percocet pills. The pills were counterfeit and contained fentanyl, alprazolam, and acetaminophen, and had been pressed by Joedon Bradley and Eric Falkowksi.
According to testimony at trial, in May 2016, Eric Falkowski moved his pill operation to Madison, Tennessee, after law enforcement conducted a search of his home in Florida and seized his pill presses. Following the seizure, Falkowski obtained more fentanyl through the internet from China and purchased a new pill press through Amazon.com.
Beginning on July 4, 2016, Joedon Bradley and Eric Falkowski mixed together a combination of inert pill binder, alprazolam (“Xanax”), acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol), and fentanyl. Over the course of approximately 24 hours, Joedon Bradley helped press thousands of pills, using a pill mold that imprinted “A333” onto the ultimate product: a white, oblong pill that was almost identical to a prescription A333 Percocet pill.
On July 5, 2016, Johnny Williams obtained approximately 300 pills through the chain of distribution. Williams arranged to sell 150 of those pills for $1,050, to Jonathan Barrett through Jennifer Dogonski, a woman who acted as a broker.
According to evidence at trial, during the period of July 5-6, 2016, Jonathan Barrett, Johnny Williams and Joedon Bradley all distributed counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl, with the markings “A333,” that were produced by Falkowski and Bradley. On July 6, 2016, Barrett learned that some individuals who had purchased the counterfeit pills had overdosed, and that one had possibly died, but he continued to distribute the counterfeit pills.
Law enforcement later searched a home in Madison, Tennessee, pursuant to a federal search warrant, and found, among other things, the pill press, multiple molds used for embedding text onto pills, including a mold for “A333,” a pill grinder, fentanyl, alprazolam and other drug manufacturing equipment. Testing later confirmed that the mold found at the house was the same mold used to make some of the pills seized from overdose victims during the investigation.
The jury found that the distribution of the counterfeit pills containing fentanyl caused one individual to die and seven other persons to experience serious bodily injuries.
The defendants face a mandatory minimum term of twenty years in prison, up to life and up to a $1,000,000.00 fine for each count charged when they are sentenced later this year.
Five other defendants indicted in this case have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. They include Eric Falkowski, 36, of Kissimmee, Florida; Preston Davis, 24, of Madison, Tennessee; Davi Valles, Jr., 26, and LaKrista Knowles, 26, both of Nashville, Tennessee; and Jennifer Dogonski, 34, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Murfreesboro Police Department; the Rutherford County Sherriff’s Office; and the Food and Drug Administration. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda J. Klopf and Brent A. Hannafan.