Bill targets NY dealers whose drugs result in overdoses

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CENTRAL ISLIP -

Some New York state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would increase penalties for dealers whose drugs result in a fatal overdose.

The bill, known as Laree's Law, would create a new crime of "homicide by sale of an opiate controlled substance."

The bill is intended to target mid- to-high level drug dealers who profit from heroin sales, according to state Sen. George Amedore, co-chair of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction.

Earlier this week, James Fava was sentenced to four to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a manslaughter charge related to an opioid overdose. In that case, prosecutors had text message evidence showing that Fava warned 27-year-old Bryan Gallagher about the potency of the drugs he had sold him. Gallagher was later found dead of an overdose in his Oakdale home. Fava is the first in New York to be sentenced as a dealer in an overdose death.

State Sen. Phil Boyle is a co-sponsor of the so-called “death by dealer” law. He says the state Senate is poised to pass it for a fifth time. He says “a more liberal mindset” from “Assembly people from New York City” do not want to pass it.

Criminal defense attorneys also say Laree’s Law is overreaching.

“I have sympathy for the parents who have lost their kids or family members to drug overdoses, but it seems to try to shift the responsibility all the way down to the drug dealer,” defense attorney Marc Gann. “There's certainly a slippery slope to this that I don't think is reasonable.”

The Gallagher family has started a foundation to help others battling opioid addiction.

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