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Three individuals who were caught conspiring to distribute heroin during a wiretap investigation pled guilty recently in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Cody Scott Deklotz, age 31, from Shellsburg, Iowa, Andrew James Lehman, 29, from Marion, Iowa, and Jerry Dwayne Banghart, age 20, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were all convicted of conspiring to distribute heroin. Deklotz admitted to conspiring to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin.

At their plea hearings, all three individuals admitted that they joined a conspiracy to distribute heroin with others in Cedar Rapids. The conspiracy had been running since at least 2017 and continued until June 2021. Evidence at a prior hearing showed that Deklotz allowed a heroin dealer from Chicago, Brian Dennis, to sell heroin out of Deklotz's Cedar Rapids residence in early 2020. The DEA in Cedar Rapids initiated a wiretap investigation of Dennis in early 2021. Deklotz was intercepted over the wire purchasing heroin and also facilitating transactions between the suppliers and users. Court records also reflect that Deklotz was stopped by officers in May 2021 while in possession of over two grams of a mixture containing heroin, fentanyl, and a powerful synthetic opioid called metonitazene, as well as about 22 grams of methamphetamine.

In a plea agreement, Banghart admitted that he bought heroin from Dennis and others, some of which he redistributed to others. In March 2021, Banghart called Dennis and asked for "half a zip," or a half ounce, of heroin for $1,400. Banghart ended up purchasing approximately 10.5 grams of a substance that contained heroin, fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, para-fluorofentanyl, and metonitazene, which he distributed to another coconspirator, Taylor Leyden. Banghart also admitted to tipping off Dennis when another coconspirator was arrested to try to warn Dennis that the other coconspirator may have cooperated with police.

Two other individuals, Ryan Rick Schlitter and Melinda Salvatora Werning, previously pled guilty to the heroin conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. Six other individuals, including Dennis, charged in the same indictment are still pending trial. As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after presentence reports are prepared. All three defendants remain in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing. Deklotz faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years' imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 40 years' imprisonment, a $2,000,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release following any imprisonment. Lehman and Banghart both face a possible maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and a lifetime term of imprisonment following any imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Marion Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham.

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.

The case file number is 21-CR-32-CJW.

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