Conspirator Who Sold Medications Leading to Overdose Death Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

Increased Penalties Apply to Drug Dealers When Users Overdose;
Third Case of its Kind to be Prosecuted in Maryland

July 7, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg sentenced Ryan Andrew Hartley, age 26, of Smithburg, Maryland, to six years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute, and distributing, morphine and methadone, the use of which resulted in the death of Brandon Sgaggero.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; and Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore.

“The sentence that Mr. Hartley received today should send a strong message to other individuals engaged in drug trafficking.” stated Ava Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington Division. “ Whether the individuals traffic in heroin, cocaine or are involved in the illicit distribution of prescription drugs, drug trafficking can have serious consequences.” stated Cooper-Davis.

According to Hartley’s guilty plea, in February 2008, Luis Reyes-Torres, then an employee of a nursing home, stole methadone, morphine and other medications which he provided to April Lynn Baker. Baker distributed the methadone and morphine to Ryan Andrew Hartley in exchange for marijuana. On March 1, 2008, Hartley sold a 40-milligram wafer of methadone to Brandon Sgaggero for approximately $40, and 20 milliliters of morphine for approximately $20. This was the only occasion on which Hartley had sold drugs to Sgaggero. Hartley believes Sgaggero contacted him about obtaining drugs because Sgaggero knew that Hartley was using drugs and would know how to obtain drugs. Hartley and Sgaggero exchanged several text messages on March 1, 2008.

In the morning of March 6, 2008, Brandon Sgaggero was found dead in his apartment. An autopsy revealed that he had died of an overdose of methadone and morphine. Also on March 6, 2008, Hartley sent two text messages to Sgaggero’s phone asking whether Sgaggero wanted any more “shampoo.” The word “shampoo” was used as a code for morphine.

Luis Reyes-Torres, age 26, of Hagerstown, Maryland, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to 115 months in prison. April Lynn Baker, age 30, of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, formerly of Clear Spring, Maryland, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.

This is the third federal case recently prosecuted in Maryland in which the distribution of drugs resulted in a drug user dying from an overdose. On December 20, 2010 Mark Alan Bryan, age 23, of Maugansville, Maryland, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. In a another unrelated case, Robert Carroll Eichelberger, age 40, of Hagerstown, formerly of Boonsboro, and Kathleen Ann Harris, age 42, of Olney, Maryland, also formerly of Boonsboro, were sentenced in December 2008 to 20 years in prison, and 13 years in prison, respectively.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA and the Washington County Sheriff ‘s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Kaul and Robert R. Harding, who prosecuted the case.

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