SNOW HILL — In yet another small victory in the ongoing battle against the growing heroin epidemic, a Berlin man last week was found guilty of supplying the drug that led to a man’s fatal overdose and was sentenced to a combined 35 years in prison.
Patrick Thomas, 59, of Berlin, last week was found guilty of manslaughter, distribution of heroin and possession with intent to distribute heroin after an extensive investigation last summer identified him as the dealer that supplied the drug to another man that ultimately led to a fatal overdose. Thomas was sentenced to 20 years for the distribution of heroin conviction and 10 years for the manslaughter conviction, which will be served concurrently. He was also sentenced to 15 years for the possession with intent to distribute conviction, which will be served consecutively, resulting in a total sentence of 35 years.
Holding a known distributor accountable in fatal overdoses is certainly not a new concept. Just last month another Berlin man was found guilty of manslaughter and distribution of heroin for supplying the drug in a fatal overdose case. There was another case in Ocean City in 2011 when a heroin addict on vacation in the resort knowingly supplied a female companion with methadone on which she fatally overdosed.
However, with the growing heroin epidemic on the Lower Shore and across the country, prosecutors are more frequently seeking manslaughter convictions for suppliers. While education and rehabilitation remain the key components in the battle, unique, proactive approaches are now being implemented, including prosecuting those who supply the drugs.