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Press Release

Raleigh Man Receives Concurrent Life Sentences for Heroin Overdose Death and Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. – A Raleigh man was sentenced today to two life terms in federal prison for Distribution of Heroin and Fentanyl Resulting in Death of a Person, and Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute One Kilogram or More of Heroin.  United States District Judge James C. Dever III, ordered that Jayson McNeil, 28, serve the life sentences concurrently, along with 30 years’ imprisonment for Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Heroin, and 10 years imprisonment for Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.  In addition, McNeil was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $20,826.64 for the victim’s funeral expenses. 

McNeil was convicted, following a four-day trial, on January 28, 2020.  The evidence at trial showed that McNeil operated a long-standing heroin organization in the city of Raleigh, distributing heroin and fentanyl to numerous individuals – resulting in multiple overdoses.  (More here.)  Despite McNeil’s own recent experience snorting fentanyl and overdosing, and despite his knowledge that his customers were overdosing on the drugs he provided to them, he continued to sell the substance to customers who would inject it intravenously.

The overdoses culminated on May 30, 2018 with the overdose death of a 27-year-old man in the Raleigh area.  The man, an expectant father, had struggled with addiction to powerful opiates.  The deadly dose was provided to him by McNeil.

At trial, one of McNeil’s customers testified that he, too, bought heroin and fentanyl from McNeil, and that he overdosed in a bathroom within days of May 30, 2018.  That man survived his overdose only through the administration of multiple doses of Narcan.  Another customer, a friend of the deceased, testified that when he confronted McNeil about his friend’s death, McNeil responded by providing him with free heroin.  That customer, in the depths of his own addiction, used the drugs.

At sentencing, the Court heard from the deceased’s family members, who described a loving family in disbelief of what occurred, the wife and children left behind, and the countless family events that this young man will never have an opportunity to share in and witness.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina commented:

“I join the Court in the message it clearly expressed today – anyone that is a heroin dealer, particularly those who cut it with fentanyl, is playing with death.  Mr. McNeil was fully aware of the deadly power of the substance he was distributing – indeed, he had his own personal wakeup call when he overdosed.  He knew that his customers were overdosing.  Undeterred by either, he continued to show zero regard for this community by spreading this poison on our streets.  As the Court stated, ‘Death is fundamentally different, when it is fundamentally preventable.’  Mr. McNeil will have a lifetime in federal prison to reflect upon this.

I was proud to stand with the victim’s family in Court today.  They have endured the nightmare shared by some 70,000 families a year whose loved ones are taken from them by drug overdoses, many involving opioids like fentanyl.  Drug dealers, like Mr. McNeil, and the drug abuse they fuel are devastating families and robbing North Carolina of the potential and promise of our citizens.  So long as this continues, we will continue our fight.”

A co-conspirator, Destin McLean, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute one (1) kilogram of heroin before trial.  McLean is awaiting sentencing.

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshals Service conducted the investigation in this matter.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly L. Sandling and Thomas L. Crosby prosecuted this case.

A copy of this press release is located on our website.  Related court documents and information are located on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:19-cr-00120-D.


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Updated April 29, 2020