Drug Dealer Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for One Fatal, Two Nonfatal Drug Overdoses
ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey on Wednesday sentenced a man who provided the drugs that caused one fatal and two nonfatal overdoses in St. Charles, Missouri, to 35 years in prison.
Ledra A. Craig, 46, of Wright City, Mo., was also ordered to pay $8,544 for his victim’s funeral.
Craig first supplied fentanyl to a man in the bathroom of the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles just before 7 a.m. on August 2, 2020, according to court statements and evidence at Craig’s trial in January. The man collapsed minutes later in the lobby and had to be revived with two doses of naloxone.
While that victim was on the brink of death, Craig sold fentanyl in the parking garage to another man, identified in court documents as “R.P.” Craig had approached that man and his friend in the casino earlier and offered to sell them cocaine.
About 40 minutes later, R.P. and his friend were spotted in a car in a neighborhood a few blocks from R.P.’s house. Authorities were called when the car rolled forward onto someone’s lawn. Both men had overdosed. N.B. was revived with naloxone. R.P. was blue, had no pulse and was not breathing. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman pointed out during Wednesday’s hearing that “the defendant knew full well that the man who lost his life [R.P.] did not know what the defendant was selling him. In fact, the defendant knew that the victim thought he was getting cocaine when the defendant knew and understood that R.P. was about to ingest one of the most lethal substances known to man: fentanyl. Despite knowing just how dangerous and deadly fentanyl was, the defendant continued to sell it anyway.”
Investigators quickly identified Craig as the man seen in the casino with the overdose victims, and an undercover officer bought fentanyl from Craig later that day in a transaction that was recorded on video. After his arrest, Craig admitted selling fentanyl to R.P. and conspiring to sell fentanyl that summer. R.P.’s phone was found in Craig’s house, as well as fentanyl capsules and residue.
Craig was found guilty by a federal jury in January of a fentanyl conspiracy charge, two counts of distribution of fentanyl causing serious bodily injury for the non-fatal overdoses, one count of distribution of fentanyl with death resulting and one count of fentanyl distribution for the sale to an undercover police officer.
"Because fentanyl is so lethal, DEA investigations involving drug poisoning deaths are no longer rare events," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey, supervisor of Drug Enforcement Administration operations in Eastern Missouri. "We know drug traffickers lie about their illegal products. They don't care about human lives and are only involved in their criminal enterprise for the money. The only safe solution to avoid dying from fentanyl is to avoid drugs, especially if there’s a chance it came from someone like this defendant."
DEA investigated this case with the St. Charles County Regional Drug Task Force.