Public Safety

Jury convicts Dubuque man who distributed fatal dose of heroin

Faces life in federal prison

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Dubuque man who distributed heroin to a woman who died of an overdose last April was convicted by a jury Thursday following a three day federal trial.

Richard Leroy Parker, 47, was found guilty of distribution of heroin within 1,000 feet of an elementary school and a playground, resulting in death, and possession with intent to distribute heroin within 1,000 feet of an elementary school and a playground.

The jury returned a verdict after deliberating about two hours on Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Parker was found not guilty on the other count of distributing cocaine, according to court documents.

Evidence at trial shows Parker obtained several grams of heroin last April 17 in Chicago. On Easter Sunday, Parker brought the heroin to a residence in Dubuque, where he and others drank alcohol and smoked crack cocaine throughout the day.

Just before midnight, Parker took a woman, “E.M.” to a back bedroom and gave her heroin. Shortly after using the heroin, E.M. stopped breathing.

Parker called 911 about 12:20 a.m. April 18 and emergency responders arrived at the house. While emergency responders attempted to save the woman, Parker testified he went into another room and hid the remaining heroin in a chair.

The attempts to resuscitate the woman were unsuccessful, and she died after 1:15 a.m.

Investigators later found the heroin, according to court documents.

“Opioid abuse is at an all-time high in our country, and we all must do our part to combat it,” U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan, Jr, said in a statement Thursday. “This case serves as a sobering example of the human toll of this national crisis. My office will spare no effort to prosecute those who traffic in heroin and contribute to this devastation.”


Parker faces a mandatory minimum of life in prison because he has four prior felony drug offenses. He also faces a $4 million fine.

Sentencing hasn’t been set at this time.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Chatham, and investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Marion police departments; the Linn County Sheriff’s Office; and Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement.

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