Heroin dealer pleads guilty in user’s overdose death

By Peter H. Milliken



A 28-year-old Oak Lane man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the Feb. 14, 2012, death of a woman from an overdose of the heroin he sold her.

Jamal Vaughn pleaded guilty in the death of Jessica Porter and to 12 drug-trafficking and three drug-possession counts and to illegal gun possession in a Monday court appearance before Judge Lou A. D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The charges stemmed from five separate criminal cases against Vaughn.

Martin P. Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, said he is recommending 12 to 15 years in prison for Vaughn when he is sentenced June 26.

“The more awareness we bring to the dangers associated with dealing heroin, mainly the overdosing, hopefully that will deter more people from dealing,” Desmond said. Drug users commit burglaries and other crimes to obtain money to buy the drugs, he added.

Vaughn’s lawyer, Thomas Zena, said he likely would recommend a seven-year prison term for Vaughn because almost all of the charges he pleaded guilty to are low-level felonies. “None of them are violent offenses,” he said.

The prosecution alleged Vaughn was a member of a ring that distributed heroin and cocaine between April and December 2011 on the city’s South and East sides. In the plea deal, Vaughn has agreed to forfeit more than $7,000 and various items, including televisions, laptops, other computers and firearms.

Porter fatally overdosed after injecting herself with heroin at Vaughn’s residence. After she overdosed, Vaughn and another person carried her to a car for the trip to Northside Medical Center.

The prosecution and defense agreed, and the judge ordered that Vaughn be released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond with electronically monitored house arrest pending sentencing, meaning Vaughn will owe the money only if he fails to appear for sentencing.

“He’s never run. He’s never had a bench warrant,” issued against him for failure to appear in court, Zena said.

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