DA SINI: DRUG DEALER CONVICTED OF MANSLAUGHTER FOR CAUSING FATAL OVERDOSE SENTENCED TO PRISON
Defendant Continued to Sell Potent Mixture of Heroin and Fentanyl after Knowingly Causing Several Non-Fatal Overdoses
Guilty Plea Marked Third Conviction of Drug Dealer on Manslaughter Charge for Causing Fatal Overdose in Suffolk County
(RIVERHEAD, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the sentencing of a drug dealer who was convicted of Manslaughter for causing a fatal overdose in Riverhead in 2018.
John Brophy, 50, of Riverhead, pleaded guilty on August 30 to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B felony, and Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a C felony. The plea marked the third conviction in Suffolk County history of a drug dealer on a manslaughter charge for causing a fatal overdose. Brophy was sentenced today by Suffolk County Court Judge Anthony S. Senft, Jr. to four to six years in prison.
“Part of our strategy in addressing the opioid epidemic is to target drug dealers who are causing fatal overdoses in our community and treat them as murderers, because that’s what they are,” District Attorney Sini said. “This particular defendant was put on notice a number of different times that his product was killing people; several of his customers had to be revived using Narcan and he in fact administered Narcan on a customer himself. The message is clear: if you sell drugs in our community and you cause death, we will charge you with homicide.”
On Sept. 19, 2018, the Riverhead Town Police Department responded to the scene of a fatal overdose on Sweezey Avenue in Riverhead. A preliminary investigation revealed that the victim overdosed on heroin or a mixture of heroin and other substances. Through an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office’s East End Drug Task Force, it was determined that Brophy sold the drugs to the victim.
The East End Drug Task Force’s investigation revealed that Brophy was responsible for selling a potent mixture of heroin and fentanyl that had caused several overdoses where victims were revived with Narcan. The investigation revealed that on at least one occasion, Brophy administered Narcan on one of his clients himself.
A forensic analysis of Brophy’s phone revealed an exchange between Brophy and his supplier, Lashawn Lawrence, 36, of Greenport, in which Brophy alerted Lawrence to the fact that the substance he was selling was causing overdoses. A text message sent from Brophy to Lawrence on Sept. 13, 2018, reads, “People r dropping I think it’s [fentanyl] we need to talk I don’t want anything to do with that.” The investigation by the East End Drug Task Force revealed that despite his knowledge of the overdoses, Brophy continued to sell the heroin-fentanyl mixture.
Lawrence was convicted on Sept. 12 following a bench trial of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, an E felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 15.
Brophy frequently sold the drugs out of an auto repair shop owned by Bryan Hale, 52, of Flanders, which is located at 500 Lincoln Street in Riverhead, with Hale’s knowledge and assistance. Hale pleaded guilty on Aug. 9 to Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a C felony, and Criminal Nuisance in the First Degree, an E felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 18.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Tanya Rickoff and William Nash, of the Narcotics Bureau.
The investigation was conducted by members of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s East End Drug Task Force, including law enforcement officers and detectives from the New York State Police, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Department of Probation, East Hampton Town Police Department, Riverhead Town Police Department, Southampton Village Police Department, and Southold Town Police Department.
In August 2016, in a first for New York State, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office indicted Roxy Headley Jr., 33, of Mastic Beach, on a charge of Manslaughter in the Second Degree for selling heroin and fentanyl that caused a fatal overdose. Headley pleaded guilty on March 2, 2018, and was sentenced on May 16, 2018, to 11 to 15 years in prison.
In December 2016, the District Attorney’s Office indicted James Fava, 32, of Ronkonkoma, on a charge of Manslaughter in the Second Degree in connection with a fatal overdose. Fava was the first person in New York State to be convicted of manslaughter for causing a fatal overdose when he pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2017. He was sentenced on Feb. 13, 2018, to four to six years in prison.
“We will continue to press our legislators to finally pass legislation for a ‘death by dealer’ statute so that we can hold drug dealers even more accountable for the death and destruction they are causing in our community,” District Attorney Sini said. “We have had success in utilizing the Manslaughter statute, and will continue that strategy, but it is not enough. It is critically important that prosecutors have the tools they need to effectively prosecute drug dealers who are causing death.”