Skip to main content
Press Release

Chicago Drug Dealer Sentenced to Life in Prison for Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Chicago, Illinois, man was sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier.

Maurice Bellafonta Cathey, a/k/a “Short,” age 39, was convicted of two counts of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death, and two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury in a November 2019 trial. 

On February 24, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Karen E. Schreier sentenced Cathey to 30 years in federal prison on each conspiracy count and life in prison for the death and serious bodily injury counts, all to run concurrently.  Cathey was also ordered to pay $500 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

On January 5, 2018, first responders reported to a fatal overdose of a 22-year-old man at an apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  The victim was unresponsive and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.  A friend of the victim who was with him said that the victim had injected himself with heroin.  The victim obtained heroin from his friend that had been distributed by Cathey.  Minnehaha County Coroner Dr. Kenneth Snell ruled that the victim’s cause of death was heroin and cyclopropyl fentanyl toxicity.

On February 9, 2018, first responders were dispatched to a fast food restaurant on South Minnesota Avenue for a report of cardiac arrest, where they found a 20-year-old woman who was unconscious and not breathing due to a heroin overdose.  The victim was revived by first responders with Narcan.  Cathey sold the heroin to the victim minutes before her overdose.

On April 23, 2018, first responders were dispatched to an overdose call at an apartment in Sioux Falls.  First responders encountered a 24-year-old man who had overdosed on heroin laced with tramadol, 4-ANPP, and fentanyl, ultimately distributed by Cathey and his co-conspirator, Corrod Phillips.  The victim was unconscious and not breathing when first responders arrived, but was revived by Narcan.

On May 16, 2018, a 23-year-old man overdosed on heroin in the bathroom of a grocery store in Sioux Falls.  First responders found him unconscious and breathing poorly, and were able to awaken him with Narcan.  The victim said he purchased the heroin from Phillips less than an hour before his overdose.

Testimony at trial revealed that multiple other overdoses, including at least one additional death, were caused by heroin distributed by Cathey and Phillips.

The Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force executed multiple search warrants during the investigation at residences connected to Cathey and Phillips.  During the execution of these warrants, SFADTF members located dozens of bindles of crack cocaine and heroin, thousands of dollars in U.S. Currency, and numerous items of drug distribution paraphernalia.  

“The sentencing of this career felon to life in prison brings a fitting end to one of the saddest chapters in the history of Sioux Falls,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “But the story of how our community came together to defeat the opioid crisis is not yet finished, and we all have much more work to do.”

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force, the Sioux Falls Police Department, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer D. Mammenga prosecuted the case.

Cathey was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Corrod Phillips awaits sentencing.

Updated February 28, 2020

Drug Trafficking