Three Facing Drug Charges in Dubuque Co.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Federal prosecutors say users and dealers of opioid drugs in Iowa got a reminder of the criminal as well as physical dangers this week. Three men will spend time in federal prison, including one life sentence, for cases from Dubuque.

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Richard Parker, 47, of Dubuque got a life sentence when a woman who took heroin he provided died. Parker had four prior federal convictions for dealing.

Jay Rickert, 28, of Grand Rapids, Michigan will spend 18 months in federal prison for sending opioid drugs purchased on the internet to a woman in Dubuque. The woman died.

And Jervonie Murphy, 26, also of Dubuque got a 33 month sentence for causing a death. A woman who bought heroin from Murphy shared it with another woman who later died.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Cedar Rapids says all three defendants got extra time in sentences received this past week because drugs they sold or gave away caused a death.

Pete Deegan, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, tells KCRG-TV 9 all three cases illustrate how local authorities have made combating opioid drugs a priority in recent years.

It also shows the dangers of not knowing what’s in some opioid drugs purchased on the street or online.

Deegan says the case of Rickert from Michigan, is an unusual and tragic example.

That defendant thought he bought one type of drug online from Canada. But what he got, and gave to the victim in Dubuque, was a much more deadly type of opioid called Fentanyl.

“Jay Rickert had no criminal history prior to this case. He didn’t even have a speeding ticket. He got drugs over the internet for a friend in Dubuque and now that friend is dead,” Deegan said.

The U.S. Attorney says there is one more tragic element to that case.

Rickert was having a video chat with the woman when she took the drugs and died while he watched on a computer screen and frantically dialed 911.

Federal authorities say the cases they illustrated in a news conference Thursday show if you cause a death or serious injury by distributing opioids, even by accident, courts will hold you accountable with an enhanced federal sentence.