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Press Release

Dubuque Woman Pleads Guilty to Helping A Man Obtain Dose of Heroin and Fentanyl that Caused His Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A woman who helped a man obtain a fatal quantity of opioids pled guilty on May 7, 2020, in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Jacqueline Margarett Birch, age 23, from Dubuque, Iowa, was convicted of aiding and abetting the distribution of a controlled substance.

At the plea hearing, Birch admitted that, in May 2019, she knew that another person was going to illegally distribute a drug, and she acted to help that distribution occur.  Evidence at a prior hearing showed that Birch drove her boyfriend Mateusz Syryjczyk and another individual to a residence in Dubuque, Iowa, during the early morning of May 27, 2019.  Birch and the other individual went into the residence, and returned a short time later with purported heroin they had purchased from a dealer inside the residence.  The three then drove to a hotel in Dubuque, where they all used the purported heroin.  The other individual began to overdose in the room.  Birch and Syryjczyk did not immediately call 911, but, over the course of multiple hours, Birch would occasionally perform CPR on the individual to restore some breathing function, though the person never regained consciousness.  Eventually, Birch and Syryjczyk decided they needed to call 911, and Syryjczyk took the remaining drug paraphernalia from the room to prevent law enforcement from finding it.  Birch and Syryjczyk also made false statements to the responding police officers about the cause of the individual’s condition.  That individual was pronounced dead at the scene.  An autopsy later determined the cause of death was use of heroin, fentanyl, and valeryl fentanyl.  Syryjczyk previously pled guilty to misprision of a felony for his role in the incident, and is pending sentencing.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Birch remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.  Birch faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-CR-1041-CJW-MAR.

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Updated May 8, 2020