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Linking dealers to overdoses in the fight against heroin

COVINGTON, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- The tough sentence for a drug dealer whose heroin killed a local man gave many people hope.
Timothy Tingle-Brown faces 20-years to life in federal prison for selling heroin to Johnny Baum who died of an overdose.  It will be the first time that federal law has been used in northern Kentucky.

Tingle-Brown pleaded guilty last week and will be back in Covington's federal court for sentencing in September.  What happened was significant in northern Kentucky's war on heroin.  The federal government linked a drug dealer to a user's death.  That can't be done in state court because the law doesn't allow it.

Holly Specht was one of the growing number of northern Kentucky mothers who lost a child to heroin.  Her son Nicholas overdosed last August.  This tough federal prosecution gave her hope.

"I think it will be an eye-opener. I think it will make a difference. I hope it puts the fear in these dealers that come into our space and sell our loved ones poison," said Specht.  

Federal court documents detailed how Tingle-Brown bought heroin in Cincinnati and sold it to Johnny Baum in Taylor Mill.  He overdosed April 20, 2013.  Baum's story was sadly common.  Overdoses at local ER's have doubled since 2011.  Since 2008, northern Kentucky heroin prosecutions have gone up 550%.  While Baum's story was common, Tingle-Brown's was unique.

Prosecutors said he was the first local drug dealer tied to a user's death.  Why? Congress approved.  The state legislature had a chance to but couldn't even get it to a vote.

Kenton County commonwealth's attorney, Rob Sanders, said, "Under state law we really don't have that option right now. It's one of the things we've asked for but not received when the legislature fails to pass the heroin bill."

Why isn't Kentucky backing up the heroin bill?  What will it take for legislatures to see it's an epidemic?  If you'd like your local police and prosecutors to have the same tools to fight heroin the feds do, the law has to be changed.  You can contact your State Representative or Senator and let them know what you think. 

CLICK HERE to find out who they are and how to get a hold of them.


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