CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Jonathan DiPirro, 30, of Depew, NY, with distribution of acetyl fentanyl, fentanyl, and cocaine causing death, distribution of acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl causing death, possessing with intent to distribute, and distributing, acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl, narcotics conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and crack cocaine, and maintaining a drug-involved premises. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
“This indictment alleges that the drugs distributed by the defendant resulted in the deaths of two of his customers,” stated United States Attorney Kennedy. “While no amount of punishment can bring back those lives and while the hope is that the prospects of spending 20-plus years in federal prison might deter others from supplying drugs that could lead to overdose, in the end, the only real guarantee that this prosecution can provide is that defendant, if convicted as charged, won’t be able to provide deadly poison to anyone else for at least two decades.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan T. Cullinane, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, in October of 2019, the Lancaster Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York State Police Violent Gang Narcotics Enforcement Team began investigating the drug dealing activities of the defendant and his co-defendant Sarah Szymanski, who were identified as individuals who sold heroin and fentanyl together in the Western New York area. Since February of 2020, law enforcement has made three separate controlled purchases of suspected opiates from co-defendants DiPirro and Szymanski.
On November 2, 2019, Lancaster Police Officers, the Bowmansville Fire Company, and the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corporation, responded to an emergency call at a residence in Lancaster. When first responders arrived, they discovered an individual identified as J.L. deceased. Next to J.L., officers observed a hypodermic needle containing a small amount of liquid or blood. A few days later, on November 4, 2019, officers took custody of an eyeglasses case that contained an amount of suspected controlled substances and the hypodermic needle. Testing by the Erie County Central Police Services Forensics Laboratory confirmed that the powdered substance contained a mixture of acetyl fentanyl, fentanyl, and cocaine. On February 11, 2020, the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office issued a death certificate listing the cause of death as “[a]cute mixed drug intoxication,” and identifying fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl as two of the drugs in J.L’s system at that time that contributed to the drug intoxication.
Subsequent investigation determined that DiPirro was the individual J.L. contacted by cell phone, using calls, text messages, and Facebook Messenger, to purchase heroin or fentanyl. Specifically, between September 2019 and November 2, 2019, the date of his overdose death, J.L. contacted DiPirro continually using these lines of communication. During that time, J.L. overdosed from heroin and/or fentanyl on three known occasions. J.L. survived the first two overdoses, but died as a result of the third overdose.
On March 4, 2020, the Cheektowaga Police Department responded to an emergency call at a residence in Cheektowaga involving an overdose of an individual. When officers arrived, they found an individual, identified as S.L., unresponsive. Officers administered two doses of Narcan but could not revive S.L. Officers also administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation and transported S.L. to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Medical personnel ultimately pronounced S.L. dead. The investigation into S.L.’s fatal overdose revealed voice calls exchanged between S.L. and DiPirro on the date of S.L.’s death. On March 5, 2020, the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office issued a death certificate listing the cause of death as “[a]cute mixed drug intoxication,” and identifying fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl as two of the drugs in S.L’s system at that time that contributed to the drug intoxication.
DiPirro was arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and detained.
Sarah Szymanski was previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Lancaster Police Department, under the direction of Chief William J. Karn, Jr.; the Depew Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jerome Miller; the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Sliwinski; the New York State Police Violent Gang Narcotics Enforcement Team, under the direction of Major James Hall; and the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
# # # #