WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A Peekskill man was sentenced Thursday to 186 months in prison for conspiring to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin in and around Westchester County during 2014, and distributing the heroin and fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of a 23-year-old man, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The defendant, Lakun Rhyne, pleaded guilty to a felony information in White Plains federal court on April 21, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román, who imposed Thursday’s sentence.
“Overdose deaths from opioid use have taken their toll in cities, small towns and rural America, “ said Bharara. “The fentanyl-laced heroin sold by Lakuan Rhyne resulted in one of those tragic deaths, but Rhyne continued peddling this poison even after that. For his callous crime, he has received an appropriately heavy sentence.”
According to the information, statements made in open court and other documents in the public record, Rhyne, also known as “Rico,” was the central participant in a drug trafficking ring based in Westchester County.
From early 2014 through the fall of 2014, he and his associates conspired to distribute significant quantities of heroin, as well as crack and powder cocaine, throughout the area, according to officials.
Rhyne and his associates sold their drugs out of cars, residences and on the streets, and some of the heroin distributed by Rhyne was laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is significantly stronger than both ordinary heroin and morphine, prosecutors said.
Between February and July 2014, confidential informants acting at the direction of the FBI purchased over 100 grams of heroin from Rhyne during the course of approximately 20 controlled transactions.
In total, during the course of the conspiracy, Rhyne was responsible for distributing over a kilogram of heroin.
On the evening of Jan. 26, 2014, in the parking lot of a restaurant in Peekskill, New York, Rhyne supplied a mixture containing heroin and fentanyl to an associate for the purpose of selling it to a customer; the buyer, Thomas Coogan of Buchanan, used the fentanyl-laced heroin supplied by Rhyne later that night, and died as a result, prosecutors said.
Following Coogan’s death – of which Rhyne was aware – Rhyne continued to sell heroin.
In addition to the prison sentence, Román ordered Rhyne to forfeit $15,000, to pay $17,676.88 in restitution to Coogan's family and to pay a $100 special assessment fee.
Rhyne was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.
Bharara praised the work of the FBI, the Westchester County Northern Narcotics Initiative, which includes the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the police departments of Peekskill, Croton-on-Hudson, Buchanan, Bedford, Yorktown, Mount Kisco and Ossining, as well as the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force.
The prosecution in the case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Turner and Michael Gerber handled the prosecution.