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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 4, 2022

Two Monroe County Residents Convicted Of Distributing Controlled Substances Resulting In Death

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Jeremy Edward Johnson, age 31, and Susan Melissa Nickas, age 47, both of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, were found guilty of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl within the Middle District of Pennsylvania, resulting in the death of a person, after an eight-day trial before U.S. District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion.

According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, jurors deliberated for approximately two hours before rendering guilty verdicts against Johnson and Nickas for the December 11, 2020, death of a 32-year-old Monroe County man.  Both Johnson and Nickas were also found guilty of aiding and abetting each other in a December 10, 2020, distribution of heroin and fentanyl, resulting in that death.

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office presented the testimony of multiple witnesses, including Dr. Michael Coyer, a Forensic Toxicologist, who opined that death resulted from the use of heroin and fentanyl; and a PSP Forensic Chemist, who analyzed drugs found at the scene of the death.  Additional testimony was provided by officers and detectives from the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office; the Pennsylvania State Police; the Pocono Township Police Department, the FBI – Scranton Office; and a FBI special agent from the Pittsburgh Office.

The charges stem from a joint investigation involving the FBI in Scranton, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Olshefski and Sean Camoni prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of a district wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin and fentanyl.  Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Heroin Initiative targets heroin traffickers operating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and is part of a coordinated effort among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit heroin related offenses.

This case was also part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The maximum penalty under federal law is life in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs.  For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Updated August 4, 2022