New Haven Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Involved in Overdose Death
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that EMETH SOLOMAN, 43, of New Haven, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, cocaine. The charge stems from an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on June 23, 2016, 17 individuals in New Haven overdosed after consuming narcotics. Three of the victims died. An investigation conducted by the DEA and New Haven Police Department revealed that many or all of the victims believed the substance they were consuming was cocaine. However, DEA laboratory testing indicated the cocaine was laced with fentanyl, a powerful opioid that can be at least 50 times more powerful than heroin.
The investigation revealed that SOLOMAN purchased a quantity of the fentanyl-laced cocaine from his supplier, Frank Pina. SOLOMAN intended to, and did, in fact, consume some of the cocaine and sold the remainder to his niece for her consumption. SOLOMAN’s niece overdosed and died.
When questioned by federal law enforcement officers shortly after the overdose death of his niece, SOLOMAN intentionally provided false information concerning his knowledge of Pina’s drug trafficking activities and his involvement in his niece’s overdose death. SOLOMAN’s false statements during an ongoing public health crisis significantly impeded law enforcement’s investigation and efforts to ensure that the lethal cocaine/fentanyl mixture was removed from circulation on the streets of New Haven.
Judge Shea scheduled sentencing for January 16, 2017, at which time SOLOMAN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
Pina was arrested on June 27, 2016. On August 4, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, controlled substances. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 31, 2016.
This investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the New Haven Police Department. The Tactical Diversion Squad includes members from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon, Wilton, Milford, Monroe, Fairfield and Manchester Police Departments, and the Connecticut State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi M. Perry.