SAN DIEGO – On September 16, 2019, Christopher James Stracuzzi, of San Diego, pleaded guilty in federal court, admitting that he distributed fentanyl that resulted in the death of a San Diego man.
According to court documents, on the evening of July 18, 2018, the San Diego Police Department received a 911 call about an unconscious male passed out on the floor in his apartment. He had taken a pill he thought to be oxycodone. His roommate attempted to perform CPR even though she was groggy from having taken a pill herself. Paramedics arrived on scene, attempted resuscitation, then pronounced the man dead.
The roommate of the deceased man told investigators that Stracuzzi sold the deceased 12 tablets that the deceased believed to be oxycodone pills. After learning from the Medical Examiner's Office that her roommate died of a fentanyl overdose, the roommate suspected that the pills they had taken that night were not oxycodone, but were in fact, counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. When the DEA Southwest Regional Laboratory, tested the remaining 10 tablets, chemists determined they contained fentany1.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, San Diego Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and California State Department of Health Care Services, along with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, are part of a team that investigates and prosecutes fatal overdose cases.
“Pulling together law enforcement resources from the local, state and federal level, gives an investigation the strength of so many areas of expertise,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “The fentanyl overdoses that lead to almost immediate death cause great harm to families and communities for many years. I commend law enforcement agencies for working together to investigate and prosecute these cases.”
Stracuzzi will be sentenced on December 2, 2019. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison with a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years.