Chicago Drug Dealers Convicted by Jury on Multiple Distribution Counts
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Maurice Bellafonta Cathey, a/k/a “Short”, age 39, of Chicago, Illinois, was found guilty of two counts of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death, and two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, on November 20, 2018, as a result of a federal jury trial in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
In addition, Corrod Leon Phillips, age 28, of Chicago, Illinois, was found guilty of two counts of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance and two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, as a result of the same federal jury trial.
“These defendants are the authors of one of the worst public health crises that this area has ever seen,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “They are responsible for importing and selling most of the heroin laced with fentanyl that caused so many overdoses in Sioux Falls last year. The suffering, death, and destruction that they have visited upon so many families in this community is immeasurable. We are forever grateful to the members of federal, state, and local law enforcement who brought these misery profiteers to justice and to the federal jury who rendered its unanimous verdict in this critically important case.”
Cathey faces a mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment, while Phillips faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Phillips was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 6, 2018. Cathey was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 10, 2018. Their cases were joined by a second superseding indictment on October 10, 2018.
On January 5, 2018, first responders reported to a fatal overdose of a 22-year-old man at an apartment in Sioux Falls. 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 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.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force, the Sioux Falls Police Department, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer D. Mammenga prosecuted the case.
Presentence investigation reports were ordered and sentencing dates have not been set yet. The defendants were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Updated November 21, 2019