As most people in Lackawanna County know, the sale of controlled substances, such as cocaine and heroin, is a crime. When the drugs have unexpected effects, such as the death of the person who purchased and consumed the drugs, additional criminal charges are often the outcome. A recent indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Scranton demonstrates how a drug sale can have catastrophic consequences both for the seller and the user.
The indictment charged the defendant with selling heroin and fentanyl to two persons who later died from overdoses. The sales took place between September and December 2015. One of the decedents had been severely injured when a drunk driver crashed into his car. The resulting pain was so severe that doctors prescribed powerful pain killers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. The man's pain was not significantly alleviated by these drugs, and he eventually began buying street drugs. According to the indictment, the man purchased drugs from the defendant and died from an overdose.
The investigation in the case was conducted by the Scranton office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Dunmore and Scranton Police Departments and the Lackawanna District Attorney's office. The defendant faces five criminal charges, including conspiracy to distribute heroin and distribution of heroin and fentanyl and causing two deaths and serious injury to a third victim.
The defendant in this case faces serious criminal charges, but he is entitled to be presumed innocent until adjudged guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The report of the case says nothing about how law enforcement authorities gathered their evidence or whether any of the evidence has been tainted by improper police procedure. Anyone facing similar charges may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer for advice on the law of the case, potential defense strategies and the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.
Source: Scranton Times-Tribune, "Scranton man charged with fatal delivery of drugs; victim remembered for his kindness," Peter Cameron, Feb. 9, 2017