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Justice News

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

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Federal Jury Convicts Buffalo Man Of Drug Distribution Which Resulted In Overdose Death

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal jury has convicted Dontrell Wise, 32, of Buffalo, NY, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, butyryl fentanyl, fentanyl, cocaine, and crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute butyryl fentanyl; and distribution of fentanyl causing death. As a result of Wise’s criminal history, the “death results” charge carries with it a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Adler and Brendan T. Cullinane, who handled the prosecution of the case at trial, stated that between mid-November of 2017 and November 23, 2017, the defendant distributed fentanyl which caused the death of a 28 year old female in Cheektowaga, NY. The evidence at trial established that Wise sold approximately 10 grams of a substance containing fentanyl which ultimately was injected by the woman, resulting in her overdose death. Hours later, the Cheektowaga Police Department responded to the scene to find the victim dead, and a wax envelope with fentanyl residue left behind.

Two weeks earlier, on November 9, 2017, the defendant was stopped by Buffalo Police officers in a rental vehicle with heavily tinted windows. Wise was found in possession of over $8,000 in cash, while a co-conspirator, Jerell Weathersby, had a quantity of butyryl fentanyl. The evidence further established that the defendant was a central member of a larger conspiracy crossing state lines, involving the distribution of narcotics in both Buffalo, NY, and Bradford, PA.             

Wise was arrested along with co-defendants Lemario Jones and Jerell Weathersby. Jones was convicted of distribution of a controlled substance and is awaiting sentencing. Weathersby was convicted of possession with attempt to distribute butyryl fentanyl and sentenced to 21 months in prison. 

Today’s verdict is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, and the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief David J. Zack.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 14, 2019, at 3:00 p.m. before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. who presided over the trial of the case.

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Updated November 8, 2018