Heroin ring defendants sentenced

HARRISONBURG – Two defendants in a heroin dealing conspiracy blamed for two non-fatal overdoses in Front Royal left a federal courtroom Wednesday with long prison sentences ahead of them.

Authorities identified Wayne Brisett, 44, as the most important member of the conspiracy, which originated in Baltimore and spread to Front Royal. Brisett was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison.

Brisett’s ex-girlfriend, Rosalind Deneen Allen, 52, also of Baltimore, was sentenced to 10 years for her role in the conspiracy, which involved notifying Brisett when customers from Front Royal were in town looking for heroin.

Allen and Brisett were the last of the six people indicted in the conspiracy to be sentenced.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Wolthuis estimated in a sentencing memorandum that Allen and Brisett delivered at least 700 grams of heroin – roughly 1½ pounds – to Front Royal residents who traveled to Baltimore to seek them out.

“That would represent 23,000 dosage units of heroin flooding the Front Royal area over that period of months,” Wolthuis wrote. “It affected dozens of customers and harmed their families.”

But the sheer amount of heroin was not the most striking part of the case from the standpoint of sentencing. Two non-fatal overdoses traced to heroin from Brisett and Allen put them at risk of a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison each if their cases had gone to trial and they had been convicted. Instead, they chose plea agreements, which led to the lower sentences they received.

Allen read from a prepared statement as she pleaded for leniency from Judge Michael F. Urbanski. She cited her success at staying away from drugs for almost a year as evidence that she was turning her life around.

She appeared in the courtroom breathing from an oxygen tank, a visible sign of the damage 15 years of smoking crack cocaine did to her lungs before she became a heroin addict.

“It’s really sad,” Allen said, “when you have time to yourself, and you realize that your life, along with your children’s, have been dragged through your addiction all of these years, just as if they were addicted also. I feel so bad and so ashamed that all I want to do is make up for all the years my drug addiction has caused them pain, and who knows what kind of time I’m facing, I’m still dragging through my addiction, just in another way.”

Allen tried to distance herself from Brisett, insisting that she wanted him to stop dealing out of the residence they shared and warning him they were in danger of being caught.

A sentencing memorandum written by Allen’s attorney, Tracy Evans of Harrisonburg, said his client’s diseased lungs have deteriorated since she was jailed about a year ago. Allen’s oxygen tank requires her to remain in the medical unit where she is the only woman inmate.

“As the only female inmate on the medical unit, Allen must remain separate from the male inmates in the medical unit,” Evans wrote. “The only solution Central Virginia Regional Jail provides is to lock Allen in her room for 23 hours a day. She is allowed one hour of recreation, but usually cannot go outside because as a medical inmate, she must remain separated from the non-medical inmates.”

Brisett struck a defiant note, insisting Wolthuis had “overexaggerated” his role in the conspiracy.

Wolthuis said Brisett was the direct link among the conspirators to the source of the heroin while Allen was only a conduit to the customers from Front Royal. Brisett’s greater culpability in the conspiracy and his more extensive criminal record were among the reasons Wolthuis cited for seeking a longer prison sentence for him than Allen.

Urbanski told Brisett his record showed a clear pattern of drug dealing that appeared to be undeterred by previous, lighter jail sentences.

“You get out of jail for drug dealing and you go back to jail for drug dealing,” Urbanski said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137, ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com.