Lawrence man back in custody in connection with fentanyl death and other overdoses

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Benjamin L. Mims at a hearing on Dec. 27, 2022.

Charges have been refiled against a Lawrence man in connection with an overdose death and multiple other overdose injuries, and he was re-arrested in the case on Friday, according to Douglas County Jail and Douglas County District Court records.

The man, Benjamin L. Mims, 36, of Lawrence, is charged with multiple felonies in connection with the August 2021 death of 18-year-old Mohamadi “MJ” Tompson Issa Jr., which the Douglas County coroner said was an apparent fentanyl overdose, and three other incidents in 2021 that weren’t fatal.

Mims was originally arrested and charged in the cases in September of 2022, but the charges were dismissed in December 2022 after the state had difficulty scheduling a key witness in the case and a judge denied the prosecution’s request for more time to prepare. At the time, Senior Assistant District Attorney David Greenwald said the state intended to refile the charges at a later date. According to court records, that happened in May; a warrant for Mims’ arrest was issued, and he was booked into the Douglas County Jail around 10 a.m. Friday.

According to the charging documents, Mims is charged with one felony count of distribution of a controlled substance causing death, three felony counts of distribution of a controlled substance causing great bodily harm and one felony count of possession of more than 100 doses of fentanyl but fewer than 1,000 doses.

Issa’s death occurred on Aug. 28, 2021, in the 3300 block of Westridge Court. The teen was on the varsity football team for Lawrence High School his freshman and sophomore years and on the Free State High School varsity team his junior and senior years, according to his obituary.

The charges for drug distribution resulting in bodily harm are in connection with incidents on May 31, July 23 and Sept. 5 of 2021. In the first two, the charging documents are not clear as to who the alleged victims were. The third involves an overdose suffered by Logan Hastie Morgan, 23, of Lawrence, who was charged alongside Mims in connection with Issa’s death and the other two overdose incidents.

As the Journal-World reported, Morgan pleaded no contest in February to one felony count of attempted distribution of a controlled substance causing death. Under the terms of his plea agreement, the state dismissed two felony counts of distributing a controlled substance leading to great bodily harm and one felony count of possession of a controlled substance.

Morgan has not yet been sentenced and is out of custody on a $100,000 own-recognizance bond, meaning he was not required to put up any money to be released from jail but may be charged that amount if he fails to appear in court. He is next scheduled to appear on Oct. 25 for a status update.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Logan Hastie Morgan is pictured during a hearing on Feb. 21, 2023. Morgan entered a no contest plea to attempted distribution of a controlled substance leading to death.

Mims is being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $200,000 cash or surety bond.

Mims was on federal probation at the time of the overdose incidents. In 2019, he and five co-defendants who were accused of dealing heroin out of a house in Kansas City, Kan., were convicted in federal court. Mims was sentenced in that case in May 2019 to 24 months in federal prison and three years of post-release supervision, according to federal court records. His federal probation was completed in January.


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