Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Seneca Dukes (42, Tampa) and David Marty (43, Tampa) have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine resulting in serious bodily injury. Dukes and Marty had pleaded guilty on October 23, 2023, immediately before their trial was to commence. Each faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years, and up to life, in federal prison. Their sentencing dates have not yet been set. Co-conspirators Emmanuel Gotay Hernandez (34, Tampa), Miriam Marti-Benning (49, Tampa), and Michelle Lipinski (35, Tampa) previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and are also pending sentencing.
According to court proceedings and documents, in March 2021, Dukes, Marty, Gotay Hernandez, Marti-Benning, and Lipinski conspired to obtain controlled substances and smuggle them into the Hillsborough County Falkenburg Road Jail. Dukes and Marty were housed in the same pod at the jail, and Lipinski, who was a nurse at the jail, routinely visited their pod. Dukes developed a relationship with Lipinski and asked her to meet with Marti-Benning to get packages from her and bring them to him during her rounds. Marty had his sister, Marti-Benning, obtain controlled substances and give them to Lipinski.
Gotay Hernandez was one of the individuals who supplied drugs to Marti-Benning. He was also an inmate in the same jail pod as Dukes and Marty, but he was released from the jail on March 14, 2021. At Marty’s request, Gotay Hernandez met with Marti-Benning and provided her with fentanyl. Marti-Benning, in turn, met with Lipinski, who then brought multiple packages of controlled substances to Dukes during her rounds on March 29, 2021.
An inmate in the pod overdosed on the fentanyl the next morning. The inmate was found on the shower floor, motionless, and struggling to breath. A medical team arrived and moved the inmate to the jail clinic for emergency treatment. Through the administration of Narcan, the medical team revived the inmate.
Following the overdose, jail deputies searched the pod and found a bag with methamphetamine and two small blue plastic baggies that contained fentanyl hidden in a slot in a bathroom partition. During the subsequent investigation, inmates in the pod said Dukes was selling drugs in the pod, a nurse was bringing the drugs into the pod and providing them to Dukes and, the last time the nurse met with Dukes was on March 29, 2021. An inmate provided investigators with a torn piece of paper with the name “Miriam Marti Benning” written on it and said that inmates were paying for narcotics through Cash App, a payment service that allows money transfers using a cellphone application.
Videos from the pod showed that Lipinski met with Dukes for approximately five minutes on the afternoon of March 29, 2021. They met in a semi-private room within the pod. Investigators reviewed calls on the jail’s recorded call system and learned that Lipinski had received hundreds of calls from inmates and Dukes was one of her most frequent callers. In coded language during some of their calls, Dukes and Lipinski discussed Lipinski getting items from Marti-Benning and bringing them to Dukes in the jail.
Gotay Hernandez and Marti-Benning communicated with each other through texts and phone calls to arrange for a delivery of heroin. Marty called them from the jail to discuss the plans for Gotay Hernandez to meet with his sister. After he delivered narcotics to Marti-Benning on March 28, 2021, Gotay Hernandez told her the substance was fentanyl and that it was very strong. On April 2, 2021, when Lipinski reported to work, detectives arrested and questioned her. Lipinski admitted that, at Duke’s request, she had been meeting with Marti-Benning and bringing packages into the jail, most recently on March 29, 2021, and that she delivered the packages to Dukes. She suspected the packages contained narcotics, but they were wrapped in black electrical tape, and she did not know the specific drugs she was smuggling into the jail.
Investigators searched Marti-Benning’s residence on April 5, 2021, and found methamphetamine, heroin, a digital scale, ring baggies, and a roll of black electrical tape. Marti-Benning admitted that she had obtained narcotics and provided them to Lipinski, and the packages were to be brought into the jail and delivered to Dukes.
This case was investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Sinacore and Samantha Newman.