U.S. Attorney Announces Indictment of Illinois Woman for Selling Heroin Resulting in Overdose Death
Indictment part of coordinated federal, state and local effort to combat opioid crisis
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Rockford, Illinois, woman has been indicted with Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Death in the District of South Dakota as part of a concerted national effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, working closely with state and local law enforcement, to combat opioids by prosecuting drug dealers to hold them accountable for the deaths and serious injuries of overdose victims. Under federal law, anyone who illegally provides a controlled substance to another person who then overdoses from using that substance is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of at least twenty years in federal prison.
Earlier this month, Stephanie Broecker, age 26, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Sioux Falls for selling the heroin that led to the death of a 30-year-old man in Miner County, South Dakota. The man, identified as K.P. in court documents, was found dead from an apparent heroin overdose at a residence in rural Miner County on November 19, 2017. Broecker was located and arrested in Illinois. She appeared before a federal magistrate judge in the Northern District of Illinois on April 10, 2018, and is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals awaiting transfer to South Dakota to face the federal charges. If convicted, Broecker faces a minimum of twenty years and a maximum of life in prison.
“It is a senseless tragedy that we have lost another life because of illegal drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “The opioid epidemic has inflicted an unprecedented toll of addiction, suffering and death on communities throughout our nation, and South Dakota has not been untouched. By holding drug dealers directly accountable for the devastation they cause, we help bring some measure of justice to their victims' loved ones and send a powerful message that these crimes will not be tolerated.”
The United States currently faces the deadliest drug crisis in history. In 2016, approximately 64,000 Americans – the equivalent of almost one-third of the population of Sioux Falls – lost their lives to drug overdoses, the fastest increase and highest drug death toll in American history. For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdose is now the leading cause of death. This plague is being driven primarily by opioids – prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin. Ingesting even a small amount of fentanyl can result in death.
In 2016, 67 South Dakotans died of drug overdoses, more than half of which were classified as opioid poisoning. In 2017, 10 people died from opiate-related overdoses in Minnehaha County alone and it is on track to exceed that number this year. There have been at least three heroin or fentanyl overdose deaths in Sioux Falls in the past month.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed all United States Attorneys to use every available tool to combat this deadly epidemic. The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to this mission and actively working with state, local, and tribal law enforcement to prevent and combat all drug-related deaths in South Dakota. As part of that effort, our District has designated an Assistant United States Attorney to serve as the Opioid Coordinator to implement our strategy in combatting opioids, with a strong focus on prosecuting cases involving prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl.
Over the past several months, federal prosecutors have been meeting and working with law enforcement agencies across the state to help investigate incidents of overdose, trace the source of the drugs up the chain of distribution, and bring either federal or state charges against those responsible for selling or providing the drugs.
Broecker is the most recent individual to be indicted on federal charges in South Dakota since this initiative began. The United States Attorney’s Office is working closely with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Miner County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnehaha County Coroner’s Office, and the United States Postal Inspection Service in prosecuting this case. Many more such investigations are in progress across the state.
“Every overdose should be considered a crime scene,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “Dealers or anyone else who illegally diverts or provides drugs to another should know that any time there is an overdose, we are going to come looking for you. You will be arrested, you will be charged, and you will be held accountable.”
On Wednesday of this week, U.S. Attorney Parsons will be appearing at the joint conference of the South Dakota Police Chiefs’ Association and South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association in Deadwood to discuss coordinated strategies to combat this drug epidemic. “Our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners do a tremendous job in investigating these crimes,” he said. “My orders are to do everything we can to support them at the federal level and provide additional tools for ensuring that these criminals who are poisoning our communities are stopped.”
The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations and defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.