Skip to main content
Press Release

British Man Sentenced To 20 Years For O'Fallon High School Student’s Overdose Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today that Richard J. Klemis, 41, a British citizen, has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for selling the heroin which killed 19-year-old Tyler McKinney on February 23, 2011.

Klemis was sentenced on Friday, May 8, 2015 in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois by Judge David R. Herndon. Klemis had earlier been found guilty of nine federal charges on February 4, 2015, following an 8-day jury trial.

At Klemis’ sentence hearing, Judge Herndon described Klemis as "evil and diabolical" and called him "a one-man drug store for high school kids at a party."

Judge Herndon also noted that Klemis was "a drug predator who preyed on children who were not yet capable of making reasoned choices."

In addition to providing the heroin which killed Tyler McKinney, Klemis was also sentenced for nearly killing a second man; selling heroin to four other O’Fallon High School students; and employing a 16-year-old to assist him in distributing heroin.

"Given all the facts in this case, we were extremely pleased by this result. Klemis got far more consideration from the British Courts than he ever gave his victims. Judge Herndon’s sentence was both wise and appropriate in this case." noted United States Attorney Wigginton.

"For five years now, my office has made the prosecution of heroin dealers who ‘accidentally’ kill someone a top priority. We are in the midst of a heroin abuse epidemic, and the victims are disproportionately teenagers. I’m proud to have played a part in removing a predator like Richard Klemis from our community."

At Klemis’ sentence hearing on Friday, Tyler McKinney’s mother and stepfather each addressed Judge Herndon before he imposed sentence on Klemis. McKinney’s mother noted that at trial, many witnesses testified that Klemis often referred to Tyler McKinney as "my boy Tyler." Addressing the Court, Mrs. McKinney said, "He was my boy, your Honor. Not Richard Klemis’ ‘boy.’ I will never get to see him married. I will never see the grandchildren he might have had. Instead I had to bury him."

The investigation which resulted in Klemis’ arrest and conviction was conducted by the O’Fallon, Illinois, Police Department, the Millstadt, Illinois, Police Department, and by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case was tried by Assistant United States Attorney Robert L. Garrison and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Drucker.

Updated May 8, 2015