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Second man convicted in fentanyl overdose death of Oldham County man

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By Amanda Manning

 A second man has pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl that resulted in the death of an Oldham County man. 

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Oldham County resident Mason Reppen, 22, died of a fentanyl overdose in Lexington on Nov. 30, 2017.

Crestwood resident Phillip Clayton Jennings, 23, pleaded guilty to the federal charge of fentanyl distribution that resulted in the overdose of Reppen in a plea agreement June 27.

On Nov. 26, Lexington resident Garry Sean Ramone Drake, Jr., pleaded guilty to the same charge in Reppen’s death.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, there is proof that both men were in the chain of distribution of the fentanyl mixture that ultimately led to Reppen’s death.

At the scene, police recovered white powder residue and a cell phone– including text messages of the drug deal the night before Reppen’s overdose.

“For me fent is way more addictive and the withdrawals are harder. I’ve never w/d off dope,” Jennings texted Reppen.

Both men graduated from Oldham County High School and the University of Kentucky.

“The dissonance between defendant’s school experience and the current charges is pronounced,” United States District Judge Robert Wier wrote in court documents. “Jennings functioned at high level, with outward success, despite the gathering storm of a daily heroin habit.”

According to court documents, Jennings graduated early from the University of Kentucky with honors.

Reppen was set to graduate from the University of Kentucky just weeks after he passed away. The University of Kentucky honored that and Reppen by allowing his mother and father to accept his diploma in December 2017.

Jennings and Drake both face a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

“Their conduct resulted in a death and the loss of their freedom is now the consequence,” Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky said. 

Since Reppen’s death, his family has worked to raise awareness about drug abuse in hopes of preventing other overdose deaths in Oldham County.

Reppen’s mom and sister are both involved with Youth Linking Oldham County (YLOC), an organization through the Coalition for a Healthy Oldham County which mission is to “link Oldham County students and community stakeholders by promoting social norms in regards to substance abuse and sharing positive outlets to deal with academic, social stress and anxiety.”

Through YLOC, they hope to educate students in Oldham County Schools about the harms of drugs.

“We’re working diligently to get into all of the high schools, get student involvement, get teacher involvement, so that we can spread the word that there’s social norms out there that need to be changed and that our kids are our priority,” Reppen’s mother, Kelley Wirth said.

U.S. Attorney Duncan echoed those remarks in a release.

“The distribution of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs is devastating our community with addiction and death,” Duncan said.

“We just miss everything about him - his smile, his laugh, his choice to go from long hair to short hair, just his enormous love for life,” Wirth previously told the Era. “This is nothing that he ever dreamt would have happened.”

Jennings sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. in the United States District Courthouse in Lexington.

Drake’s sentencing is set for March 1, 2019 at 10 a.m. in Lexington.