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Press Release

Berea man indicted for selling heroin that killed Lakewood man

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

A two-count indictment was filed in federal court charging a Berea man with distributing heroin that killed a Lakewood man earlier this year, said Carole S. Rendon, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Brandon Wagner, 43, was indicted on one count of distribution of heroin and one count of using a communication facility to facilitate a felony. The charges stem from the March 16 sale of heroin that resulted in the death of another person, according to the indictment.

That count carries a sentencing enhancement that can result in a 20-year mandatory minimum penalty.

“The unrelenting wave of fatalities associated with heroin and opioid abuse is a reminder to all of us that we need to do more to protect our community from this epidemic,” Rendon said. “The only way we can stem this tide is with a comprehensive approach focused on prevention, treatment, prescribing practices and enforcement. Law enforcement will continue to aggressively prosecute dealers whose actions result in the deaths of our sons and daughters.”

“The crisis we have in our communities due to heroin and fentanyl is not a problem for just the addicted,” said Lakewood Police Chief Tim Malley. “The families and friends are just as intimately involved with the damage and sorrow this causes. The Lakewood Police Department will continue to investigate all of our overdose cases to hold those accountable that have participated in any way in ending someone’s life. Those selling the heroin know that fatal consequences are all too likely with what they are selling, all for a few dollars.  The Lakewood Police Department will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office, and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner to hold those accountable and take them off our streets for lengthy prison sentences.”

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Darden following an investigation by the Lakewood Police Department and the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force. The NOLETF is a task force comprised of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cleveland Division of Police, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the police departments of Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Lakewood, the Regional Transit Authority, Westlake and Shaker Heights. The NOLETF is also one of the initial Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiatives, which supports and helps coordinate numerous Ohio drug task forces in their efforts to eliminate or reduce drug trafficking in Ohio.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated June 14, 2016

Drug Trafficking