Two Dutchess County Men Charged In White Plains Federal Court With Distribution Of ‘Breaking Bad’ Heroin Causing The Deaths Of Three Individuals
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William V. Grady, the Dutchess County District Attorney, James J. Hunt, the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and Adrian H. Anderson, the Dutchess County Sheriff, announced the unsealing this morning of a federal criminal complaint charging DENNIS SICA, 36, and JOHN ROHLMAN, 25, both of Dutchess County, with distributing heroin, the use of which caused the overdose deaths of three individuals. SICA and ROHLMAN are expected to be presented later today in White Plains federal court before the Honorable Lisa Margaret Smith, United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of New York.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Three young people from our community are dead, the tragic victims of heroin peddled by the defendants under the label ‘Breaking Bad.’ Heroin and opioid abuse hurts all of our communities. It affects everyday people, people with jobs, people with families. Although the heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic may be breaking bad, we must aggressively make good on our collective obligation to stamp out this affliction. No more half-measures. The lives of our children and the vitality of our communities depend on it.”
Dutchess County District Attorney William V. Grady stated: “From the beginning stages of this investigation my office, along with the Dutchess County Drug Task Force and the DEA worked together with the ultimate goal of developing a case that could be prosecuted under Federal Law. This was done because presently, under New York Law an offender convicted of such a sale could be sentenced to a drug diversion program, the county jail or even probation. Such sentences, under these facts, are simply outrageous and unacceptable. We must send the strongest message possible to those individuals who engage in this conduct. A sentencing range of 20 years to life, from both a punitive as well as a deterrent perspective, is such a message. When similar circumstances are encountered in the future my office will not hesitate in involving Federal law enforcement. I sincerely appreciate U.S. Atty Bharara for undertaking this prosecution.”
DEA Acting Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt stated: “This year DEA New York has seized 110% more heroin than in 2009. The Mexican drug trafficking organizations are flooding the Northeast market with heroin, leaving tragic overdose deaths in the cartel’s wakes. Case in point - the tragic deaths of three victims who allegedly bought heroin from two local drug dealers; Dennis Sica and John Rohlman. I applaud the prosecutors and investigators who arrested the defendants. These arrests are a message to dealers alike that behind every overdose, law enforcement is looking for the drug dealer responsible.”
Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian H. Anderson stated: “Today’s arrests are the direct result of the hard work, dedication, and cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and it’s good to see that effort pay off in the form of some justice for the victims and their families. There’s more work to be done and the battle is far from over. Let this be a warning to all of those people who sell drugs in Dutchess County and elsewhere—we’re going to do everything in our power to put a stop to their business and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint:
From at least late 2013 to February 2014, SICA and ROHLMAN worked together in Dutchess County to sell a particularly potent form of heroin, bags of which were stamped with the brand name “Breaking Bad.” At least some of the heroin distributed by SICA and ROHLMAN was laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is significantly stronger than street heroin.
On the night of December 28, 2013, SICA sold “Breaking Bad” heroin to Anthony Delello, a 20-year-old resident of Beekman, New York. Delello snorted some of SICA’s heroin and was found dead by his girlfriend the following day. The Dutchess County Medical Examiner’s report concluded that he died from “acute heroin intoxication.”
Delello’s death did not stop SICA and ROHLMAN from selling “Breaking Bad” heroin. Four days after Delello was found dead, SICA and ROHLMAN exchanged a series of text messages in which SICA urged ROHLMAN to delete the text message history in the phone they used to sell heroin and, if asked, to deny knowing anything about Delello or the manner of his death. According to one witness, during the month that followed, SICA and ROHLMAN were responsible for distributing approximately 250 grams of “Breaking Bad” heroin per day.
Slightly more than a month after Delello’s death, two more individuals died after overdosing on “Breaking Bad” heroin. On February 1, 2014, Thomas Miller, 31, was found dead by his mother at his home in Pawling, New York. A hypodermic needle, as well as several glassine bags stamped with the words “Breaking Bad” were found near his body. Some of the glassine bags were full, others were empty. A chemical analysis of the contents of the full glassine bags showed that they contained a mixture of quinine, fentanyl, and heroin. The medical examiner’s report indicates that Miller died of “acute intoxication by the combined effects of heroin and fentanyl.” Text messages between Miller and ROHLMAN on the night before Miller was found dead show that ROHLMAN arranged for Miller to purchase “Breaking Bad” heroin from SICA that night.
The same day that Miller was found dead, Laura Brown, 35, was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose in New Milford, Connecticut. Brown was found with needles and glassine bags near her body. Several of the glassine bags were stamped with the words “Breaking Bad.” The autopsy performed on Brown’s body showed that she died of “acute heroin and fentanyl intoxication.” According to Brown’s brother, he and Brown together bought “Breaking Bad” heroin from SICA two days before Brown was found dead.
On February 2, 2014, SICA was arrested in East Fishkill, New York after a car in which he was riding was stopped by law enforcement. During the stop, an East Fishkill police officer noticed several glassine envelopes lying on the car’s floorboard. Upon further inspection, the officer observed that the glassine bags were stamped with a “Breaking Bad” stamp identical to the one that appears on the envelopes recovered from Thomas Miller’s bedroom.
If convicted of the offense charged in the Complaint, SICA and ROHLMAN each face a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life in prison, and a maximum fine of $1 million or twice the gain or loss resulting from the crime. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and the Dutchess County Drug Task Force. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad is composed of agents and officers of the DEA, the NYPD, the Westchester County Police Department, and the Town of Orangetown Police Department. The Dutchess County Drug Task Force is composed of the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, the East Fishkill Police Department, and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Bharara also thanked the New York State Police Forensics Unit and the police department for the City of New Milford, Connecticut, for their assistance in the investigation.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Hartman is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.