JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 32-year-old man was convicted Thursday in federal court on charges that he sold fentanyl to a Jacksonville woman who died of an overdose in 2017.
Ronald Johnson, who already had a long criminal history, was accused of selling drugs to 23-year-old Shelby Waugerman, who died of an overdose two days later.
Prosecutors said Johnson sold Waugerman what he thought was heroin on Sept. 16, 2017, but the medical examiner said the drug was a form of fentanyl and it killed her. She was found dead in her home a day later with a syringe and lighter in her possession.
Johnson, who was initially charged in state court, but was indicted on federal charges in January, was convicted of two counts to distribute drugs, one count of carrying a firearm while trafficking in drugs and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Defense attorneys argued that it was impossible to be certain the drugs that killed Waugerman were the ones Johnson sold her because she had another dealer's number in her phone also.
But the jury decided there was enough evidence to convict Johnson of distributing drugs that led to a death.
"It’s a huge day, huge day," said Sabine Embry, Waugerman's mother. "We’ve been waiting for this for a year. And all law enforcement and prosecution, they have done an amazing job to prove this case."
Embry said her daughter was a nursing student who was trying to make a better life and people need to know what fentanyl-based drugs can do.
"We really need to bring awareness because our town is flooded with this epidemic," Embry said. "She (Embry) was an awesome girl. No trouble ever. ... She was not a partier."
The drug deal happened at Passions Gentlemen's Club, where Waugerman worked. According to the police report, she had the name Tiki in her phone as a person she was communicating with to buy drugs.
Johnson was arrested a week later, accused of buying drugs from an undercover officer outside the Target store near Regency Square. He admitted to detectives that one of his street names is Tiki.
Waugerman's brother, Dennis Waugerman, said Johnson's conviction should be a warning to other dealers.
"Hopefully, that’s going to send a message out there to others that basically somebody’s going to be held accountable," Dennis Waugerman said.
He said when it comes down to it "there are no winners in this situation."
"His life is ruined. Our lives are ruined. Our pain will continue forever, and if he gets a life sentence, he’s not the only one getting it, because we are, too," Dennis Waugerman said. "So there are no winners."
Johnson will be sentenced Jan. 24.