New London teen pleads guilty to distributing heroin that led to overdose death

Nineteen-year-old Jason Shephard of New London pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hartford to distributing heroin with fentanyl that contributed to the overdose death of a 36-year-old man on May 1.

Shephard, who also is known as "Angel," pleaded guilty to one count of distributing heroin and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 19, 2018, by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea.

The case is part of an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users.

According to court documents and the government, on May 1, 2017, the New London Police Department received a 911 call regarding a drug overdose in New London. The female caller indicated that a male in her apartment was unconscious and barely breathing. Police and emergency medical personnel responded to the apartment and attempted life-saving measures. The victim, who was 36, was transported to the hospital and later pronounced deceased. He is not identified in court documents.

At the scene, officers seized from trash cans in the living room and bathroom several glassine bags, stamped "Tunnel Vision," that contained white and brown residue. They also found a syringe and two burnt spoons with narcotic residue that tested positive for fentanyl.

The woman who called 911 told police she arranged to buy the heroin from a man named "Angel" because the victim and another man at the apartment said early that morning that they "needed to get right for the day." Shephard was later identified as Angel.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that the man's death was caused by a combination of fentanyl and alcohol.

New London police said they conducted controlled purchases of heroin from Shephard on May 1 and 3. Some of the heroin bags purchased contained fentanyl, and all were marked with the same brand stamp found on the empty bags of heroin at the scene of the overdose, officers said.

Shephard was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on May 31, 2017. He is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration's New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the New London Police Department. The Tactical Diversion Squad includes members from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon, Wilton, Milford, Monroe and Fairfield police departments, and the Connecticut State Police.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala.

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