Prosecutors are charging an Indiana man under the 2018 law targeting drug dealers

SCHOTTBURG, In. (WAVE) – Scott County prosecutors have charged an Indiana man with supplying the pills that killed a woman in a hotel room last week.

It is the second time the office has filed charges since the law was passed in 2018. Prosecutors said they are using the provisions of a new law to target drug dealers, not just drug users.

The charge carries harsher prison terms than a standard drug trafficking charge.

“It’s now a newer tool in our toolbox to hold dealers accountable,” said Scott County Attorney Chris Owens.

Owens said he’s using this new charge to go after people who supply opioids, rather than just people who are addicted to them.

“People who dealt these drugs that poisoned our communities often served prison or jail terms and often came out to focus right back on it,” Owens said.

Police arrested Wilburn Bingaman a week ago after being called to his hotel room in the I-65 suites.

Officers arrived to find 38-year-old Tina Mauldin unconscious in his room. He told police she was his girlfriend and may have been taking some of his painkillers.

Police said Bingaman later told them he gave Mauldin six or seven hydrocodone pills that day.

He said his prescription was filled with 90 pills at a pain clinic that day, but the bottle only had 68 left. The coroner found no obvious injuries on Mauldin.

“Our office has been working with local law enforcement to develop some sort of task force or team to respond to overdose deaths so we can compile indictments and hold people accountable for those dealing with these poisons in our community,” said Owens.

Bingaman is currently in prison on a $100,000 bond.

Prosecutors charged him with dealing in narcotics, which if convicted carries a prison sentence of two to 12 years. He was also charged with dealing with controlled substances causing death, which carries a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison if convicted.

“Without supply, there is no demand,” Owens said.

Bingaman’s case is due to go to trial at the end of March.

The county is working on how it will spend the $3.1 million it was awarded under the opioid manufacturers’ settlement with the state of Indiana. The money will be paid to the county over the next 15 years.

According to Indiana, the opioid overdose epidemic peaked in 2012 with 112 prescriptions issued per 100 residents.

In 2016, nearly two-thirds of all counties still issued more prescriptions than people living there.