Pubdate: Tue, 13 Aug 2002
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002 The State
Author: Lora Hines, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Heroin)


Columbia Man Convicted for Heroin, Distribution That Led to Death

A Columbia man linked to one of the Midlands' largest drug rings was 
sentenced to two life terms Monday.

Ronnie Bowman, 39, was convicted of conspiring to distribute at least a 
kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of heroin and distributing a controlled 
substance resulting in a death.

Bowman was one of 40 defendants in a heroin-dealing organization since 
mid-1996 in the Columbia area, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Moore said. 
Bowman is one of the last defendants to be sentenced in the case. His 
girlfriend, Jerilyn Gray, has been a fugitive since her indictment.

Last year, Bowman agreed to plead guilty, but failed to meet conditions to 
guarantee a 22-year sentence. Instead, he asked U.S. District Court Judge 
Dennis Shedd to allow him to withdraw his guilty pleas, claiming his former 
attorney, Vincent Shaheen, hadn't given him copies of key forensics test 

On Monday, Shedd rejected the request.

The heroin investigation started in early 1997 in several areas of the 
city. Police uncovered the ring in 1999 after residents near Martin Luther 
King Jr. Park complained about drug activity in their neighborhood. 
Informants helped undercover officers infiltrate the organization. The 
investigation ended in October 2000.

On Aug. 15, 1999, Mark Nunn, 36, of Columbia, died after buying what he 
thought was heroin from Bowman, prosecutor Moore said. Nunn might have 
taken fentanyl, a synthetic drug stronger than heroin, at Bowman's Broad 
River Road apartment, Moore said.

Nunn passed out and had trouble breathing, but Bowman refused to call 911, 
Moore said. Bowman and a couple of his customers moved Nunn and a vehicle 
to the parking lot of a nearby fast-food restaurant and then called 911, 
Moore said.
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