The U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the conviction of three people for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute counterfeit pills made with fentanyl that left one person dead and sent another 20 people to the hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 2016. After an eight-day trial, a federal jury convicted Joedon Bradley, Johnny Williams, and Jonathan Barrett. A fourth defendant, Jason Moss, was found not guilty on all counts.
According to testimony given during the trial, in May 2016 Eric Falkowski, who has already pleaded guilty and is waiting to be sentenced, moved his counterfeit pill operation to Madison, Tennessee after authorities in Florida became aware of his activities, raided his home there, and seized his pill presses. After relocating, Falkowski purchased more fentanyl online from a vendor in China and new pills presses on Amazon.com. On the Fourth of July, Falkowski and Bradley pressed thousands of counterfeit Percocet pills. The following day, Williams obtained 300 of the pills and sold half of them to Barrett in a deal brokered by Jennifer Dogonski. Evidence presented at trial said that Barrett, Williams, and Bradley all sold the counterfeit pills on July 5th and 6th. Barrett learned on July 6th that some people who had purchased the pills had overdosed and that one may have died, but he continued to sell the pills.
Tennessee is just one of the 43 states in which PSM has confirmed the presence of counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl and one of 22 in which a death has been directly linked to those pills. The presence of fentanyl has worsened the opioid epidemic, adding to the tragic toll on individuals, families, and communities across the United States. The full 43 States and Counting: The Deadly Combination of Imported Fentanyl and Counterfeit Medicines can be read here.
A raid of Falkowski’s home turned up a pill press, multiple dies for making pills, a pill grinder, fentanyl, alprazolam, and other drug manufacturing equipment. The defendants face a minimum of 20 years in prison. Eric Falkowski, Preston Davis, Davi Valles, Jr., LaKrista Knowles, and Jennifer Dogonski all pleaded guilty to their roles and are awaiting sentencing. The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Murfreesboro Police Department, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S Food and Drug Administration all contributed to making this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda J. Klopf and Brent A. Hannafan prosecuted the case.