A Bradenton man faces charges for selling drugs that ended a woman’s life.
A federal grand jury Monday handed up an indictment charging David E. Johnson with distribution of fentanyl resulting in death and distribution of fentanyl.
Johnson, 36, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the charges, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, which assisted with the investigation, said this is the first time someone in the county — which has been ravaged by fatal and other overdoses caused by heroin, fentanyl and other opioids —has been charged with killing someone they sold drugs to.
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Fentanyl, a narcotic used to treat pain, is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Dozens of people have died in Manatee County over the past several years from overdoses of fentanyl or heroin cut with the drug.
The indictment alleges Johnson distributed fentanyl twice on Jan. 11. One of those two transactions allegedly resulted in the death of one person, according to the release.
The victim in the case, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow, was a 33-year-old Manatee County woman.
The government also intends to seize assets alleged to be traceable to the proceeds of the offenses, according to the release.
The case is part of a drug enforcement task force called “Hot Batch,” which works to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations along with those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply, according to the release.
We’re going to continue to do what we need to to do hold the drug dealers accountable. They’re selling poison in our community and they need to be held accountable.”
Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells.
According to Manatee County court records, Johnson was previously convicted of charges of uttering a forged instrument and grand theft in 2006, and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling in 2007.
On Jan. 12, Johnson was arrested and charged with delivery of a controlled substance, resisting an officer without violence, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of controlled substance.
According to the case’s probable cause affidavit, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office learned on Jan. 11 a man later identified as Johnson was selling fentanyl and organized a buy bust. An undercover detective allegedly purchased approximately 0.8 gram of suspected fentanyl from Johnson. The federal charges arose from the case.
In an executive order included in case documents, the State Attorney’s Office advised Gov. Rick Scott that Johnson was charged with selling drugs to the spouse of an employee in the State Attorney’s Office. Ed Brodsky, state attorney, voluntarily disqualified himself and requested another state attorney be assigned to the case, court records show.
Bristow said, for the sheriff’s office, it’s the first time he’s aware of that a suspect has been federally indicted for distribution resulting in a death.
“We’re extremely pleased, obviously, and we applaud the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we’re very happy with the work our detectives put into this case,” Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells said.
Wells commended his detectives for their work in developing probable cause for the charge, and said the sheriff’s office has been trying for about a year to find a case appropriate for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute.
“We’re going to continue to do what we need to to do hold the drug dealers accountable. They’re selling poison in our community and they need to be held accountable,” Wells said.