Maryland Drug Dealer Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Selling Drugs That Caused the Death of a High School Student
Federal Statute Establishes Mandatory Sentence for Drug Dealers When Users Overdose
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Robert Carroll Eichelberger, age 37, of Hagerstown, formerly of Boonsboro, today to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, resulting in the death of a juvenile, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
Under federal law, when someone dies of an overdose of illegal Schedule I or II controlled substances, the criminals who distributed the fatal drugs face a mandatory minimum 20 years in federal prison without parole. The enhanced penalty is set forth in the United States Code at Title 21, Section 841(b)(1)(C).
“We pursued this charge in order to put drug dealers on notice that they can be held accountable if anyone dies after taking the drugs that they distribute,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “We have asked local prosecutors to send similar cases to us for investigation, because holding illegal drug dealers accountable for drug overdose deaths may save lives.”
According to the statement of facts, beginning in 2006, Robert Carroll Eichelberger and Kathleen Ann Harris began illegally selling prescription drugs, including methadone and various brands of oxycodone and hydrocodone. The defendants were able to obtain the drugs because Harris had medical problems that allowed her to get legitimate prescriptions from physicians, who were unaware that she intended to re-sell the drugs with Eichelberger. Among the customers of Harris and Eichelberger was a high school student in western Maryland.
For several months prior to July 2007, Eichelberger and Harris sold methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone to the high school student, including on several occasions when his friends were present. Both Eichelberger and Harris were aware that the student would sell some of the drugs he obtained from them to his classmates, friends and associates. The student also used the drugs that he bought from the defendants, including methadone. On both July 23, 2007, and July 24, 2007, the student used some of the methadone he obtained from Harris and Eichelberger.
On July 25, 2007, Eichelberger and Harris went to the student’s residence where they sold him methadone and all three consumed alcohol. The student died in bed late that night or sometime the following morning. An autopsy found that the student died of methadone and alcohol intoxication. The methadone which the defendants sold to the student on July 25, 2007 was a substantial cause of his death.
Eichelberger pleaded guilty to the crime on September 29, 2008.
Kathleen Ann Harris, age 39, of Olney, Maryland, also formerly of Boonsboro, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge. Judge Motz has scheduled her sentencing for December 19, 2008 at 11:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maryland State Police, the Washington County Narcotics Task Force and Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore and his office for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys P. Michael Cunningham, Robert R. Harding and Special Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Teelucksingh, who prosecuted the case.