SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A 39-year-old Chicago man will be spending the rest of his life in prison for causing the fatal overdose death of a 22-year-old Sioux Falls man who had injected heroin that was laced with fentanyl.

Maurice Bellafonta Cathey, also known as "Short," was sentenced to life on Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Sioux Falls federal court on the charge of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death.

In the fatal incident on Jan. 5, 2018, the victim who was in his Sioux Falls apartment became unresponsive and was unable to be revived. A friend of his, who was in the room at the time, told authorities that he had obtained the drug from Cathey.

Minnehaha County Coroner Dr. Kenneth Snell had ruled and testified at Cathey's trial last November that the victim's cause of death was heroin and fentanyl toxicity.

Also in the trial, it was revealed that multiple other overdoses, including at least one additional death, were caused by heroin distributed by Cathey and his co-conspirator, Corrod Phillips.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Federal court documents said that in the three other Sioux Falls cases first responders were able to revive with Narcan the victims in their early 20s in the early months of 2018 after they had taken laced heroin that was distributed by Cathey and Philips. In one instance, at a fast food restaurant in south Sioux Falls, the victim who was revived with Narcan had just purchased the laced drug from Cathey minutes before her overdose.

The Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force had executed multiple search warrants during the investigation at residences connected to Cathey and Phillip and found dozens of bundles of crack cocaine and heroin, thousands of dollars and numerous items of drug distribution paraphernalia.

“The sentencing of this career felon to life in prison brings a fitting end to one of the saddest chapters in the history of Sioux Falls,” said South Dakota's U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons. “But the story of how our community came together to defeat the opioid crisis is not yet finished, and we all have much more work to do.”

Cathey was also convicted of four other drug related counts in his trial, including distributing controlled substances and distribution of drugs that resulted in serious bodily harm.

Cathey was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after his sentencing. Phillips awaits sentencing.