In a rare legal victory in the battle against the opioid epidemic, a local drug dealer is going to prison for the overdose death of a Gates woman.
"We're hoping this sends a signal to all of those drug dealers that if you're selling this deadly stuff to our community and people are dying, you're going to be held accountable and you're going to be held accountable for homicide charges," said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
32-year old Dominic Hobbs of Rochester pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide in connection with the death of 41-year old Tara Miles. Prosecutors say Miles died last April as the result of an overdose of fentanyl sold to her as heroin by Hobbs.
Senior Assistant Monroe County District Attorney Gregory Clark said he knows of only one other successful prosecution of a case like this in New York State. State law makes it difficult, he said, to directly link a dealer to an overdose death.
"We need to prove that, essentially, what was sold to the individual contributed to the death and that the person selling it knew that it could be a lethal dose of narcotics."
Clark credits Hobbs’ guilty plea to an undercover investigation by the Gates Police Department and critical information provided by Miles' family. Under his plea agreement, Hobbs will serve 2 to 4 years in prison for criminally negligent homicide and a concurrent 4 years for criminal possession of a controlled substance. His sentence will be handed down on December 19 in Monroe County Court.
In 2016, police in Gates investigated more than 100 heroin-related deaths, more than the number of fatalities from homicides or DWI-related accidents.
Doorley said her goal is to continue to fight the opioid epidemic by conducting thorough investigations that could lead to homicide charges. She said dealers understand what they’re doing.
"They can't now plead ignorance. They know that heroin, heroin laced with fentanyl kills. They know that."
In Monroe County last year, the deaths of 169 people were directly linked to heroin, opioids, fentanyl, and similar substances.