|DA John Morganelli and Forks Tp Police Detective Philomena Kelly announce|
charges against dealer who supplied lethal heroin overdose.
These charges are the result of a painstaking investigation conducted by Forks Township Police Department Detective Philomena Kelly, who was credited by Morganelli for her thorough work. Morganelli pledged that the charges will be "vigorously prosecuted," and has assigned the case to Assistant DA Patricia Mulqueen, who heads up the Drug Unit in his office.
Noting that there have been three recent heroin overdose deaths in Northampton County, Morganelli observed that Pennsylvania State Police reportedly have seized four times as much heroin in the second quarter of 2015 than they did in the first.
"It is clear that the trafficking of heroin has reached all parts of Pennsylvania in alarming ways. The citizens must recognize that heroin is a dangerous drug and use of heroin is similar to playing Russian roulette. Those who deal in this poison are also on notice that we will continue to identify those of you who sold heroin that have killed individuals and you will be prosecuted vigorously."Morganelli said that one of the reasons heroin has become epidemic is because it is so cheap. Noting the proliferation of prescription drugs like Oxycodone and Vicadin, the state's senior prosecutor lamented a "culture of people living on these painkillers" who find that heroin is a cheaper alternative, and easier to get. "There's a pretty strong link between abuse of addictive drugs and heroin," he said.
This investigation began on August 2, 2015, when Thomas O'Brien, Jr., was discovered unresponsive in the restroom at Follett Corporation, a Forks Township company that specializes in manufacturing ice dispensers for both the food service and health industries. Employees immediately began CPR and contacted both Forks Township Police and Suburban EMS.
Though Forks Township Police have no heroin overdose kits, Suburban EMS does and began administering it en route to Easton Hospital. The reason this was done is because officers on scene discovered seven empty heroin baggies and a needle underneath O'Brien's body and an additional needle in his backpack.
O'Brien succumbed on August 24, 2015, and a toxicology report revealed that his death was the result of acute heroin intoxication.
In the meantime, Detective Philomena Kelly began an exhaustive investigation. Through a series of interviews, she determined that there was a strong likelihood that the heroin came from a dealer named "Dan." Family members told Kelly that they had confronted "Dan" about selling heroin to their son, and also identified a picture of a person identified as Forks Township resident Daniel Joseph Fisher, Jr.
Detective Kelly then began examining text messages exchanged between Fisher and O'Brien, establishing both that Fisher was O'Brien's supplier, and that it was in fact Fisher who supplied the seven baggies of heroin and drug paraphernalia that proved to be the direct and immediate cause of O'Brien's death. She also obtained video footage showing Fisher leaving the Follett Company just moments before an unresponsive O'Brien was found She also was able to establish that Fisher purchased needles used for heroin just before his deadly visit.
Fisher is currently housed at the Northampton County jail on an unrelated matter.
Morganelli noted that heroin overdose kits are not in use by many police departments in Northampton County because of inadequate training and concerns about liability. But noting that "many police officers are the first responders," he indicated he is working on a program through the state that might be able to help police departments.
This overdose death is strictly the result of heroin. There have been recent concerns about heroin laced with fentanyl, which is deadly at low levels. Though Detective Kelly has heard these concerns, "I specifically have not seen it."