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Press Release

Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Distributing Fentanyl Analogue That Killed Florida Man

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin

MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Michael Schoenmann, 31, Spring Green, Wisconsin, was sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 12 years in federal prison for attempting to distribute fentanyl, and distributing a fentanyl analogue that resulted in the overdose death of a Florida man.   Schoenmann pleaded guilty to these charges on November 16, 2018.

On December 26, 2017, Wyatt Cox, a 25-year-old Florida resident, received a package in the mail containing a bottle of nasal spray containing what was later determined to be a fentanyl analogue.  Cox died shortly after ingesting the substance.  Based on a comprehensive investigation involving state and federal law enforcement officers, the package was traced back to the defendant, Michael Schoenmann. 

From 2017 through March 2018, Schoenmann was running a vendor site on the dark web, advertising and selling fentanyl nasal spray.  Schoenmann sold his product throughout the United States.  He indicated on his website that he got his fentanyl from overseas and from various vendors, then packaged it as nasal spray to allow addicts like himself to use the fentanyl undetected.  Schoenmann was arrested on March 8, 2018, following the execution of a federal search warrant at his residence in Spring Green.

Two of Wyatt Cox’s family members spoke during yesterday’s sentencing hearing, expressing the extraordinary pain, sadness, and loss that they felt.  At one point, Cox’s sister acknowledged that both families lost someone – her brother forever, and the defendant for a long time to federal prison.  She then told the defendant that she blamed both him and her brother, but she forgave the defendant.  Judge Peterson commended her for her words of forgiveness and hoped that the sentencing would provide some justice and healing for both families.  Judge Peterson assured the Cox family that Wyatt was not just another statistic.

In addressing Schoenmann, Judge Peterson pointed out that Schoenmann’s addiction was a disease, but that the disease was his responsibility, and noted that not every addict turns to crime to support their addiction.  Judge Peterson called Schoenmann a danger to the public, and someone who was willing to do anything to feed their addiction, including exploiting other addicts.  Judge Peterson also acknowledged that although Schoenmann did not murder Cox, nor did he want or intend to kill him, fentanyl is such a powerful drug that the risk of death is ever-present, and Schoenmann’s conduct made an overdose death extremely likely.

Judge Peterson concluded by warning Schoenmann that dealing with his addiction is his life’s work, and that a lifetime commitment to his sobriety was his responsibility.  Schoenmann apologized to the Cox family, saying simply, “I am so, so sorry.”

U.S. Attorney Blader stated, “Fentanyl and all related substances and analogues are inherently dangerous.  Ingesting any illegal substances obtained from the internet and in the mail are extraordinarily dangerous.  Users have no idea what is really in the substance and illegal drug makers don’t care about users or the family they may leave behind – the risk cannot be overstated.”   

The charges against Schoenmann were the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, Richland-Iowa-Grant Drug Task Force, Sauk County Drug Task Force, Boscobel Police Department, and the Charlotte County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office.  The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Przybylinski Finn. 

Updated January 30, 2019