California Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Methamphetamine in California and New Hampshire
CONCORD – United States Attorney, Emily Gray Rice announced today that Benjamin Rogers, 31, appeared before United States District Court Chief Judge Joseph Laplante and pleaded guilty to distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death.
According to documents that were filed in United States District Court and statements in the plea proceeding, Rogers worked at a restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with the victim, Cassie Clermont, 30. On October 17, 2014, Rogers arranged to provide a quantity of drugs to Ms. Clermont. Text messages and witness statements showed that Rogers left the restaurant and later returned to the restaurant parking lot, where he met with Ms. Clermont and provided her with a quantity of drugs. Ms. Clermont later left the restaurant and went to her apartment in Portsmouth. She was found dead the next day, with fentanyl and drug paraphernalia near her body.
The New Hampshire Medical Examiner later found that Ms. Clermont died of acute fentanyl intoxication. New Hampshire has the third-highest rate of per capita drug overdose deaths in the United States. More than half of the drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2015 were the result of fentanyl, either alone or in combination with other drugs.
United States Attorney Rice said, “I want to thank the Portsmouth Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Newmarket Police Department, the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office and the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office for their work on this case. Fighting the opioid epidemic is a multi-pronged, team effort. One facet of our attack is to prosecute those who are criminally responsible for causing drug overdoses. We will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute the individuals who distribute drugs that cause overdose deaths. Any drug distribution has the potential to be deadly, regardless of the quantity of drugs involved. When a drug distribution causes an overdose death, my office will seek to hold the distributor accountable.”
In April 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office announced the formation of an inter-office team of prosecutors who will work together to prosecute individuals who cause opiate overdoses in New Hampshire. This prosecution, initiated before the creation of the joint team, is an example of the type of case that will be generated by the team.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John J. Farley.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for September 19, 2016.