Law Enforcement Also Recovered Five Firearms from Defendant’s Apartment Which He Used in Furtherance of His Drug Trafficking
GREENBELT, Md. – U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel today sentenced Rodney Mondell Coby, a/k/a “Cuz,” age 33, of Waldorf, Maryland, to 40 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for 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. A federal jury convicted Coby of those crimes on February 28, 2020, after a seven-day trial.
Judge Hazel ordered Coby to pay restitution in the amount of $935, reflecting the expense of cremation for the victim, whom the jury found died from Coby’s distribution of fentanyl to the victim. Judge Hazel also ordered Coby to forfeit $22,000 in cash, jewelry, including a Rolex watch, and the firearms seized from his residence. Coby has been in custody since his arrest on April 13, 2018.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Jarod A. Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Field Division; St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron; and Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry.
“Rodney Coby knew that the fentanyl he was distributing was killing people, but he continued anyway,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “This sentence should put drug dealers on notice that when you deal fentanyl you are dealing death and you could spend decades in federal prison—especially if you use guns to ply your trade. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stop the tragic deaths resulting from opioid overdoses.”
According to the evidence presented at his seven-day trial, Coby distributed kilograms of fentanyl to resale and personal use customers over the course of several years. The jury heard from witnesses who bought fentanyl directly from Coby. Other witnesses presented evidence of Coby’s fentanyl distribution drawn from text messages, phone records, and surveillance video.
On September 6, 2017, Coby and his co-defendant, Steven Jerome, distributed fentanyl to an individual, resulting in the death of the victim less than three hours later. According to Steven Jerome’s plea agreement, after meeting with Coby for the drug transaction, the individual used the fentanyl that Coby distributed. The individual immediately showed signs of overdosing. By the time first responders were called, they were unable to resuscitate the victim.
Further, the evidence introduced at trial also proved that Coby distributed fentanyl on November 29, 2017 to an individual who died on December 1, 2017, as a result of injecting fentanyl.
On April 13, 2018, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Coby’s apartment and recovered five firearms, including a loaded .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol from Coby; a .357-caliber semi-automatic pistol; a 5.7x28mm semi-automatic pistol; a .300-caliber semi-automatic AR type pistol, a 7.62×39 caliber semi-automatic AK type pistol, as well as 159 rounds of various types of ammunition. The .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol was found in a backpack next to 121 individual baggies of fentanyl and a bag of cocaine base. The jury determined that Coby possessed the .45-caliber pistol in furtherance of his drug trafficking. Law enforcement officers also recovered a total of over 200 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture, over 40 grams of cocaine base, 12 cell phones, a money counter, four digital scales, over $22,000 in cash, and jewelry including a Rolex, a gold chain, a gold and diamond pendant, and ladies’ gold and diamond grills. Moreover, Coby had a previous felony conviction and was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Steven Jerome, age 33, of Leonardtown, Maryland, pleaded guilty before trial to distributing fentanyl. As detailed in his plea agreement, two individuals died as a result of his distributing fentanyl to them. Jerome admitted to one of his associates that he worked with Coby to distribute narcotics. Judge Hazel sentenced Jerome to 150 months in federal prison on November 17, 2020.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron 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. Barron thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Schwartz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright, who prosecuted the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach and click on “Save A Life – Opioid Abuse”.