A federal jury today convicted Keith Wyche, also known as “Marco,” of distributing fentanyl which resulted in the fatal overdose of a 43-year-old Staten-Island resident on April 18, 2017. Wyche and co-defendant Oneil Allen were also convicted of distributing heroin to a 28-year old woman on October 27, 2017, leading to her suffering serious bodily injury. In addition, the two men were convicted of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl, and distributing those narcotics. The verdict followed a three-week trial in federal court in Brooklyn before United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry. When sentenced, both defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James E. Dennehy, Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Newark Field Office (FBI), and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the verdict.
“With today’s verdict, two drug dealers who sold lethal drugs without any regard for the lives they were endangering, have received a powerful response from the jury holding them responsible for their crimes,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on our district, with Staten Island bearing a terrible toll, and this Office will continue working tirelessly to reduce the number of victims and the availability of dangerous drugs.”
“Dealers and pushers are hooking users with a dangerously addictive mix of drugs that shouldn’t ever be used outside of a medical environment. Mr. Wyche and Mr. Allen would text customers first thing in the morning to keep their clientele coming back. Their goal was to make more money, disregarding one man’s life and the lives of others to whom they sold. The FBI Newark Transnational Organized Crime Task Force has a message for criminals at the root of this growing epidemic plaguing our communities - there is a federal prison cell waiting for you as well,” stated FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Dennehy.
“Abuse of heroin and the deadly additive fentanyl has cut a wide swath across New York City and our nation, affecting people in all neighborhoods, from all walks of life,” stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “To combat this scourge, we seek to shut down the supply of illegal drugs and, ultimately, to save lives. That is why NYPD detectives probe every overdose to determine how the narcotics were obtained, and it was those efforts that led to today’s verdict. I commend the investigators in this case, and the strong collaboration of the NYPD and our law enforcement partners, all of whom are helping to stem the opioid crisis.”
As proven at trial, Wyche and Allen ran a narcotics delivery service, distributing heroin and fentanyl, among other drugs, in Staten Island. The defendants used a stash house in New Jersey to package and prepare narcotics, and traveled daily into Staten Island to sell their illicit product. On the days they distributed narcotics, they would alert customers early in the morning with text messages reading “Good Morning” or “Rise and Shine,” and then coordinate meetups with customers.
On April 18, 2017, the father of a 43-year old Staten Island man (“John Doe”) found his son dead in a bathroom of a residence in Staten Island. A hypodermic needle, tourniquet, and glassines containing fentanyl were on and around the body. By reviewing the deceased victim’s phone, NYPD detectives found a series of text messages from a number labeled “Marco 5.” These messages began with a text from the contact “Marco 5” that started with “Rise and Shine,” and showed that the user of this phone had sold narcotics to John Doe in the hours before his overdose.
On October 27, 2017, NYPD Officers responded to a 911 call for a 28-year old woman (“Jane Doe”) who was reported as unconscious inside a vehicle in Staten Island. After first responders administered several doses of Narcan to Jane Doe, she regained consciousness and was transported to a hospital. A review of messages on Jane Doe’s phone showed similar messages to those found on John Doe’s phone, including a message reading “Rise and Shine” on the day of Jane Doe’s overdose. Jane Doe testified at trial that she purchased narcotics from the defendants and later helped law enforcement gather evidence against them.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gilbert M. Rein, Irisa Chen, and James P. McDonald, with assistance from Paralegal Specialists Teri Carby and Eileen Rosado.
KEITH WYCHE (also known as “Marco”)
Staten Island, New York
ONEIL ALLEN (also known as “James”)
Staten Island, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-561 (S-1) (DLI)