Alleged drug dealers on Long Island charged with manslaughter after involvement in fatal overdose

RIVERHEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Police in Suffolk County say three men who were selling a lethal mix of heroin and fentanyl are now under arrest -- and two of them are facing manslaughter charges.

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini and the offices' East End Drug Task Force announced Monday that 49-year-old John Brophy and 35-year-old Lashawn Lawrence were responsible for the fatal heroin and fentanyl overdose of a man in Riverhead on Sept. 19.

Authorities claim Brophy, along with 52-year-old Bryan Hale, sold the drugs to the victim, while Lawrence acted as Brophy's supplier.

"This is precisely why fentanyl is so dangerous and often lethal: The product is marketed as heroin but it's cut by drug dealers with fentanyl, and it can be cut at different stages so drug dealers don't necessarily know how much fentanyl is in the product," Sini said. "They are playing a game of Russian roulette, but with other peoples' lives."

Police say the three men continued working to sell the potent narcotics, which resulted in several overdoses in Suffolk County where the victims were revived with Narcan.

"The investigation revealed evidence of at least one occasion in which Brophy administered Narcan on one of his clients himself," District Attorney Sini said. "Think about that for a moment: You're selling a product, your customer dies in front of you because your product is so potent, you have to administer Narcan on that person, and then you're so depraved that you continue to sell that product."

Attorneys for at least two of the suspects say their clients are addicts themselves and did not knowingly sell the powerful drugs.

"I think it's a tough link in a criminal case to try to link my client to that unfortunate and tragic death," Lawrence's attorney Carl Irace said.

Brophy's attorney Colin Astarita says Brophy is an addict himself.

"My client specifically was actually engaging in taking heroin with this individual who ended up dying," Astarita said.

Astarita also pointed out what he says is investigators' lack of evidence that his client sold the deadly drugs to the victim.

"There's no evidence to support other than some text messages that there was an actual sale or that he actually got the drugs from my guy."

Hale's attorney said his client did not sell to anyone.

This is the third time authorities in Suffolk County have charged alleged drug dealers with manslaughter.

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