A University of Kentucky honors grad and two others could get life sentences after pleading guilty to distributing fentanyl that led to the deaths of a UK student and a jail inmate, according to the U.S. attorney’s office and other reports.
One of the guilty pleas resulted from the death of 25-year-old Ryan Alan Smallwood at the Montgomery County Regional Jail on Nov. 23, 2017. The death also led to a lawsuit against the jailer and deputy jailers.
Kloud Logan Jones, 27, of Mount Sterling, was booked the night before at the jail. When Smallwood, who was charged with burglary, was placed in the same cell as Jones following an altercation with an inmate, Jones gave the lethal drugs to Smallwood, who had been locked up since April, according to a lawsuit. Their cell, called the “detox cell,” was in the booking area of the jail and served as a holding cell for new inmates.
Smallwood “was then observed staggering, taking off his shirt, and falling onto a mat on the floor,” the lawsuit says. Seventeen minutes later, Smallwood was found unresponsive by jail staff and later died at a local hospital from acute fentanyl toxicity, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Smallwood would still be alive if the jail staff had properly searched Jones or put Smallwood in a different single cell. The lawsuit was filed in May in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
For giving Smallwood the lethal fentanyl, Jones will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Two Lexington men, Garry Sean Ramone Drake, Jr., 26, and Phillip Clayton Jennings, 23, also pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl that killed a man on Nov. 30, 2017, the U.S. attorney’s office said. The Oldham Era reports Oldham County resident and University of Kentucky graduate Mason Reppen, 22, died from the overdose.
“He was a loving son, devoted brother and cherished friend to all that knew him,” according to the Mason Reppen Memorial Fund. “His smile lit up the room. His heart warmed everyone he touched.”
Jennings and Reppen exchanged text messages discussing the drug purchase before Reppen overdosed on the fentanyl he was given, according to court documents. The fentanyl was distributed to Jennings by Jones in Lexington two days prior to Reppen receiving it, according to court records.
The victim died at a home on Gibson Avenue in Lexington, and a white powder residue was found in the bedroom where he was located, court records show.
Jennings graduated early from UK with honors, the Oldham Era reported.
Both Drake and Jennings face a minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Another Lexington man will spend more than 24 years in prison following a historic 2017 drug seizure.
Ansar McIver, 46, previously admitted to making a deal to obtain large quantities of fentanyl, cocaine and heroin from the U.S. southwest, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The drugs were transported to Lexington, and on May 18, 2017, Lexington police stopped a vehicle containing around 6 kilograms of cocaine, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Police obtained a search warrant of McIver’s residence a month later and found “cocaine, approximately 786 grams of fentanyl, heroin and a combined quantity of drugs, as well as approximately $586,369 in drug proceeds,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The fentanyl seizure was at the time the largest ever in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The conspiracy involved “the illegal distribution of enormous amounts of illegal drugs, drugs that continue to devastate our community,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “This case represents a stark reminder that much work still needs to be done to combat this epidemic and that effective law enforcement partnerships can – and do – save lives. Removing these drugs from our community was a team effort that almost certainly prevented overdoses and potential deaths in our community.”
McIver pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, cocaine and heroin. He was sentenced to 290 months — a little more than 24 years — in federal prison and will forfeit more than $580,000 in seized money.
He qualified as a career offender due to previous drug trafficking felony convictions. McIver must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence and after his release, he will be on probation for 10 years.