April 27, 2015
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Dutchess County Man Pleads Guilty In White Plains Federal Court To Distributing Heroin And Fentanyl That Caused The Deaths Of Three People
MANHATTAN, N.Y. - Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement (DEA), announced today that Dennis Sica pleaded guilty today in White Plains federal court to participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl, the use of which resulted in the deaths of three individuals: Anthony Delello, Laura Brown, and Thomas Miller. Sica was arrested by state authorities on February 2, 2014, and was transferred to federal custody on June 19, 2014. He pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Cathy Seibel on the day trial was scheduled to begin on the one-count Indictment.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “With today’s guilty plea, Dennis Sica formally acknowledged his role in causing the deaths of three young people. The outcome of this prosecution may do little to console the family members who lost their loved ones to the scourge of heroin and Sica’s willingness to exploit their addictions for personal gain. One can hope, however, that the significant penalties Sica faces for his crimes will deter those who peddle deadly drugs and avoid the tragedy that these young victims and their families have suffered.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment, the underlying criminal Complaint unsealed on June 19, 2014, and statements made during court proceedings:
From at least late 2013 to February 2014, Sica and others 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 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 from selling “Breaking Bad” heroin. Four days after Delello was found dead, Sica exchanged a series of text messages with a co-conspirator in which Sica urged the co-conspirator 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.
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.”
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 by state authorities in East Fishkill, New York, after a car in which he was riding was stopped by law enforcement. During a subsequent search of the car, law enforcement officers recovered several glassine bags stamped with a “Breaking Bad” stamp identical to the one that appears on the envelopes recovered from Thomas Miller’s bedroom.
Sica, 37, of Hopewell Junction, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl resulting in death. The offense carries 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 defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Drug Enforcement Administration’(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 New York City Police Department, 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, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, 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. Attorneys Scott Hartman and Benjamin Allee are in charge of the prosecution.