Man faces manslaughter charge for back-seat heroin overdose

A Cranston, R.I., man is about to finish a prison sentence for the 10 bags of heroin police found in his car during a traffic stop at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

But his legal problems stemming from the 2008 incident are not over.

Nicolas Chateauneuf, 28, faces trial for first-degree manslaughter for allegedly failing to seek help for a man who died of a heroin overdose in the back seat of a Cadillac Escalade that Chateauneuf had rented for the Sept. 21, 2008, trip to Foxwoods.

A Foxwoods security officer stopped Chateauneuf's car for driving the wrong way in the Grand Pequot garage and noticed the passenger in the back seat was blue, cold to the touch and not breathing, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit.

Edward Iocono, 30, of
Cranston, was pronounced dead after the Mashantucket Pequot Ambulance Co. transported him to The William W. Backus Hospital. An autopsy revealed he had died of a heroin overdose.

Chateauneuf and front seat passenger Raymond Linden of Providence said they thought Iocono, who was drinking at a Providence club the previous night, was "sleeping it off." They said they went into the casino after turning him on his stomach to keep his airway clear in case he vomited. They said they placed a cell phone by his head so he could call to meet up with them when he awoke.

The men said they only spent a half hour in the casino, since Chateauneuf was unable to get a credit card cash advance for gambling. When they returned to the car, they said Iocono looked worse, and they decided to take him to a hospital.

Chateauneuf and Linden were charged in connection with the glassine bags of heroin recovered from the car's center console. Chateauneuf was charged additionally with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and with cruelty to a person. He was sentenced in March to 15 months in prison for the drug possession and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The cruelty charge was not prosecuted as part of a plea agreement. Linden applied for and was granted a program that enabled him to clear his criminal record after completing substance-abuse rehabilitation.

State police continued to investigate and visited Chateauneuf in prison following his sentencing. He provided more information, and in April they obtained the warrant charging him with manslaughter.

Chateauneuf rejected a plea offer in the manslaughter case and is awaiting trial. He is expected to complete his current sentence within a month, and on Tuesday, prosecutor John P. Gravalec-Pannone asked a judge to increase his bond to ensure his appearance in court. Pannone said Chateauneuf is a resident of Rhode Island with no ties to the area.

Attorney Kevin C. Barrs said Chateauneuf had been steadily employed, most recently as a mortgage broker, but struggled with a heroin addiction. He said Chateauneuf would be living with his parents in Cranston upon his release and is not a flight risk.

Judge Susan B. Handy raised the bond to $150,000 cash or surety and said the case remains on the trial list.

k.florin@theday.com

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