A woman who helped a man obtain a fatal quantity of opioids and then delayed calling for help after he overdosed was sentenced on September 16, 2020, to four years in federal prison.
Jacqueline Margarett Birch, age 23, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison term after a May 7, 2020 guilty plea to aiding and abetting the distribution of a controlled substance.
Evidence at a prior hearing showed that Birch drove her boyfriend, Mateusz Syryjczyk, and another individual to a residence in Dubuque, Iowa, during the early morning of May 27, 2019. Birch and the other individual went into the residence, and returned a short time later with purported heroin they had purchased from a dealer inside the residence. The three then drove to a hotel in Dubuque, where they all used the purported heroin. The other individual began to overdose in the room. Birch and Syryjczyk did not immediately call 911, but, over the course of multiple hours, Birch occasionally performed CPR on the individual to restore some breathing function, though the person never regained consciousness. Court records reflect that Birch also occasionally kicked the individual when he stopped breathing. Eventually, Birch and Syryjczyk decided they needed to call 911, and Syryjczyk took the remaining drug paraphernalia from the room to prevent law enforcement from finding it. Birch and Syryjczyk also made false statements to the responding police officers about the cause of the individual’s condition. That individual was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy later determined the cause of death was use of heroin, fentanyl, and valeryl fentanyl. Syryjczyk previously pled guilty to misprision of a felony for his role in the incident, and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Court documents also reflect that Birch had previously cleaned up an overdose death scene and lied to the police about it in Peosta, Iowa, in 2016.
Birch was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Birch was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment. She must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
Birch is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until she can be transported to a federal prison.
The case was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 19-CR-1041-CJW-MAR.
Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.