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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

Friday, February 10, 2017

Plattsburgh Man Charged in Fatal Heroin Overdose

PLATTSBURGH, NEW YORK – Thomas A. Burnell, age 34, of Plattsburgh, New York, was charged today with distributing heroin resulting in another person’s death.


The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, Plattsburgh Acting Chief of Police Michael Branch, and Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Division, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).


Burnell is detained pending a detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Gary L. Favro on February 14, 2017.


Burnell has been incarcerated since January 18, 2016, on state charges arising out of the same allegations charged in the federal complaint. According to the criminal complaint, on January 16, 2016, Burnell sold heroin to a man identified as “J.G.” who died later that night. The cause of death was an opiate overdose.


The charges in the complaint are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


If convicted of the offense of distributing heroin resulting in death, Burnell faces at least 20 years and up to life in prison. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.


This case was investigated by the Plattsburgh Police Department and the DEA, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Collyer.

Drug Trafficking
Updated February 13, 2017