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Press Release

Federal Court of Appeals Upholds Conviction and Life Sentence for Dubuque Man Who Distributed Heroin that Caused an Overdose Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A Dubuque, Iowa, man’s conviction and life sentence for distributing heroin resulting in a death was upheld April 7, 2021, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. 

On October 17, 2018, Richard Parker, age 49, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to concurrent life sentences following his jury conviction on two counts of distributing heroin, one of which resulted in an overdose death. 

The evidence at trial showed that Parker obtained several grams of heroin in Chicago in April 2017.  On Easter Sunday, Parker brought the heroin to a residence on Rhomberg Avenue in Dubuque.  Parker and other individuals at the residence drank alcohol and smoked crack cocaine throughout the day.  Prior to midnight, Parker and an individual identified as E.M. went into a back bedroom.  While inside the room, Parker gave E.M. heroin, which she used.  Shortly after using the heroin, E.M. stopped breathing.  At approximately 12:20 a.m. on April 17, Parker called 911, and emergency responders arrived at the scene.  As emergency responders were attempting to save E.M.’s life, Parker went into another room and hid the remaining approximately four grams of heroin in a chair, which was later found by investigators.  The attempts to resuscitate E.M. were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead shortly after 1:15 a.m.

Parker had numerous felony criminal convictions.  Amongst his prior convictions are four prior felony convictions related to drugs, including three prior convictions for drug distribution.  In April 2017, Parker had recently been released after spending nearly a decade in prison for a burglary conviction.

“Richard Parker committed a deadly crime.  The sentence affirmed by the Court of Appeals ensures he will no longer sell lethal narcotics in our community” said Acting United States Attorney Sean R. Berry. 

The case was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Marion Police Department; the Iowa City Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 17-CR-1034-LRR.

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Updated April 9, 2021

Drug Trafficking