Eastern KY man gets life sentence for dealing fentanyl that led to fatal overdose

A Pike County man was sentenced to life in federal prison for distributing fentanyl and para-flurofentanyl that resulted in a death, and for conspiring with others to distribute heroin, fentanyl and para-fluorofentanyl.

Justin Bryant, 38, of Shelbiana, was convicted by a federal jury in October 2022, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Robert Wier.

According to evidence at trial, on October 12, 2021, Bryant smuggled drugs into the Pike County Detention Center and distributed them. The drugs contained fentanyl and para-fluorofentanyl, and their use resulted in the death of another individual in the jail.

Para-fluorofentanyl is a synthetically-produced opioid and a relatively new variation of fentanyl, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. It’s among a group of synthetic opioids which have re-emerged in the U.S. in the past decade.

At sentencing, Judge Wier made a finding that there was reliable evidence connecting Bryant to another overdose death in August 2021.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, evidence showed even after the overdose death in 2021, staff with the Pike County Detention Center and Pikeville police stopped Bryant from bringing drugs into the jail on two additional occasions.

The conviction in this case is the most recent of 30 prior criminal convictions, which Bryant has received over the past 20 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.