A former Monessen High School basketball standout was sentenced to a federal prison for eight years for selling deadly heroin and fentanyl.
Jalen Cameron Madison, 24, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti. Prosecutors charged that drug combination caused the death of John Brooks Watkins on Aug. 22, 2015.
Attorney Nicola Henry-Taylor said Madison, who graduated high school in 2012, led the basketball team to win a WPIAL title.
“Mr. Madison was a young man with a great future in front of him; however, some setbacks ultimately resulted in the loss of his basketball scholarship to play at Keystone College in Scranton,” she wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
However, Francis Calpin, senior director of college relations at Keystone, said that is not accurate.
“Mr. Madison never applied, was never accepted, and never enrolled as a student at Keystone College,” he said in an email.
Calpin said Madison had only a brief telephone conversation with the men’s basketball coach at the time.
Calpin stressed that Madison neither visited the campus nor met with any officials from keystone. He further noted that as a NCAA Division III member, Keystone College cannot offer athletic scholarships to any student athlete.
Henry-Taylor's court filing also indicated Madison took some classes at a local community college, but ultimately dropped out, his attorney said, struggling since 18 with mental and emotional disorders for which he sought counseling.
After charges were filed against Madison last year, he pleaded guilty in November to violating federal drug laws between 2013 and 2016.
He also received letters of support from his family and the mother of his children.
Conti, however, called Madison’s actions in selling heroin and fentanyl “playing with death” and ordered that Madison be placed on supervised probation for four years after his release from prison.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt.
United States Attorney Scott W. Brady commended the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Washington County Drug Task Force, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, the Canonsburg, Donora, Monessen and Charleroi Regional police departments as well as the Washington County Coroner’s Office and the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Madison.