A man who helped coach the Nebraska Wesleyan University tennis team last year has been indicted for allegedly dealing heroin that led to a man’s overdose death in January.

Zachary Northey, 25, made his first appearance in U.S. District Court on the three-count indictment Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to distributing heroin resulting in the Jan. 9 death of "M.R." and two counts of distributing heroin resulting in serious bodily injury to the same person.

Court documents don't name the person who died, but it is believed to be Mickey "Mick" Rowe. 

Shortly after 1 p.m. on Jan. 9, emergency responders went to a Lincoln home at 2300 Atlas Circle on a report Rowe had overdosed on suspected heroin or prescription medication, according to scanner traffic that day.

Rowe, 40, died. In the obituary that followed, family said he had lost his battle with addiction.

In Northey's indictment, originally filed last week and unsealed Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Bunjer accused Northey of distributing heroin to M.R. on Nov. 26 and Jan. 2, resulting in serious injury, and on Jan. 8, resulting in his death.

At a brief hearing Tuesday afternoon, Northey said he understood the charges and the maximum penalty.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years to life on each of the charges.

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Northey wasn't given a trial date. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart told him that, because doctors will be involved in the case and will need to get through and understand extensive information, his public defender and Bunjer agreed the case shouldn't yet be set.

Zwart ordered Northey, who was arrested over the weekend, to remain in custody for now, because he is a risk of harm to the community and a flight risk.

Northey is facing a state possession charge for an incident Dec. 28. That morning, police got a call about a man sitting in a vehicle near 56th Street and Leighton Avenue for two hours and found Northey, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, according to court records.

In the affidavit for Northey's arrest, police said they saw white pills on the seat next to him, and a drug vial fell from his lap when he got out of the vehicle.

About a week later, police arrested him on a possession charge for not having a prescription for the pills.

According to NWU's website, Northey helped his father, Dave Northey, who is the head coach of the men's tennis team, as an assistant coach.

A university spokeswoman said Wednesday that he had been an assistant coach for the 2017-18 season.

In the summer of 2017, he was the men's singles champion at the Lincoln Open tennis tournament.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.


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