Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel today sentenced Steven Jerome, age 33, of Leonardtown, Maryland, today to 150 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for the federal charge of distribution of fentanyl. Jerome acknowledged that his distribution of fentanyl resulted in the death of two victims.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jesse R. Fong of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Field Division; St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron; and Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur stated, “Steven Jerome knew that the fentanyl he was distributing killed someone and still went on to distribute fentanyl to his own mother, killing her, too. He’s now sentenced to 12½ years in federal prison. Drug traffickers are on notice that dealing in deadly fentanyl increases their odds of prosecution in federal court, where there are no suspended sentences and no parole—ever. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stop the tragic deaths resulting from opioid overdoses.”
According to his plea agreement, Jerome and his co-defendant, Rodney Coby, distributed fentanyl to an individual on September 6, 2017, resulting in the death of the victim. Specifically, on September 6, 2017, Victim 1 drove Jerome from the St. Clement Shores neighborhood of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, to Waldorf, Maryland, where Jerome met with a physician to obtain prescriptions for Xanax and Adderall.
Victim 1 then drove Jerome to a nearby pharmacy where Jerome filled the Xanax prescription, then to a pre-arranged meeting location in Waldorf where Coby distributed fentanyl to Jerome. Jerome then distributed a portion of that fentanyl to Victim 1.
As detailed in the plea agreement, Victim 1 then used the fentanyl and immediately showed signs of an overdose. Jerome did not call first responders or seek medical attention for Victim 1 because he had an unrelated arrest warrant pending against him. Instead, Jerome drove Victim 1 back to St. Clement Shores, parked the car, and walked to his mother’s house, which was nearby. Jerome’s mother then called first responders, who were unable to resuscitate Victim 1. The medical examiner later determined that Victim 1 died of fentanyl intoxication.
On March 26, 2018, Jerome’s mother texted him to order a “cap,” which is a gel capsule filled with an opioid such as fentanyl. On March 27, 2018, Jerome sold a gel capsule that contained fentanyl to his mother. On March 30, 2018, Jerome’s mother used the contents of the gel capsule that he distributed and died from a fentanyl overdose. Next to her body, investigators found a used syringe and the gel capsule that Jerome distributed. The contents of the gel capsule tested positive for fentanyl, and the medical examiner concluded that Jerome’s mother died of fentanyl intoxication.
Jerome subsequently admitted to one of his associates that he worked with Coby to distribute narcotics.
Rodney Mondell Coby, a/k/a “Cuz,” age 31, of Waldorf, Maryland, was convicted on February 28, 2020, after a seven-day trial for the federal charges of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Coby faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years and up to life in prison for distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. Coby also faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for the conspiracy and for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances; a maximum of life in prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and a maximum of 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Judge Hazel has not yet scheduled sentencing date for Coby. Coby has been in custody since his arrest on April 13, 2018.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the DEA, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation, and thanked the Prince George’s County Police Department for its assistance. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregory Bernstein and Erin Pulice, who is prosecuting the case.