A federal judge has sentenced a one of three Massachusetts men charged with selling heroin that killed a woman in 2009 to 21 years in prison. The 29-year-old man had pleaded guilty earlier this year to participating in a heroin distribution conspiracy, according to the U.S. Department of Justice in Boston.
Since it is usually difficult to determine where a person obtained a drug after they die of an overdose, suspects are rarely charged with selling a drug that caused someone’s death. This case may signify that authorities are becoming more willing to pursue such charges. In a similar case in Wisconsin, two men who provided heroin that killed a 20-year-old woman are each facing more than 40 years in prison if they are convicted of first-degree reckless homicide. And in the realm of prescription drugs, Florida resident Jeff George pleaded guilty last year to felony second-degree murder in the overdose death of Joey Bartolucci, a 24-year-old addict who died in February 2009 after taking hydromorphone and other drugs. Jeff and his brother Chris, who were accused of running the largest illegal pain clinic network in the country, were eventually sentenced to 15 and 17 years in prison.