Another day, another heroin story in Metro East. This tale involves four disgraced men. The first two men overdosed and subsequently recovered; the second two were their suppliers, who were charged with a Class 1 felony that carries up to fifteen years in prison.
It's a sordid tale, albeit one that thankfully involved no fatalities. And it illuminates the real consequences of the recently announced efforts on the part of a U.S. Attorney in Illinois to prosecute dope dealers as potential killers.
In the first overdose case, on March 29, Justin E. Ray, 28, of Edwardsville, Illinois, provided four grams of heroin to a 44-year-old South Roxana acquaintance. The victim allegedly injected himself while a passenger in Ray's car and soon became unresponsive. Rather than traveling to a hospital or calling 911, Ray reportedly drove the victim to his South Roxana house, left him there and sent a text message to the man's ex-wife to notify her of the overdose.
In the second overdose case, on April 4, Dillyn G. Reichmann, 30, of Highland, allegedly administered heroin to a 16-year-old Highland boy, who became unresponsive. Reichmann then reportedly drove the victim to a nearby hospital, parked him in a wheelchair and notified a nearby nurse that the boy had overdosed on heroin. Then he, too, left.
Following the incident, a narcotics squad raided Reichmann's house and discovered pill bottles filled with Vicodin and Xanax, several grams of heroin, burnt spoons containing white residue and an abundance of hypodermic needles, according to the Belleville News Democrat.
Ray and Reichmann were each charged with "drug-induced infliction of great bodily harm," a Class 1 felony that, in Illinois, carries a maximum sentence of fifteen years. Their charges are part of an enhanced effort in the Metro East to crack down on heroin dealers (and providers, who aren't moving large quantities of drugs and might simply be friends of the victims), treating overdose scenes as potential murder scenes. The charges against Ray and Reichmann are the first in Madison County since prosecutors announced the strategy during a press conference last month.
It's still too early to tell whether the beefed-up legal effort will put a dent into the area's heroin problem. The debate is only beginning as to whether providers like Ray and Reichmann should be charged with murder or attempt to do bodily harm.
But it's important to note that there are contrasts between these two examples. In the first case, the provider left the victim unresponsive in his house, then texted his ex-wife. In the second case, the dealer injected the victim, but he then drove him directly to a local hospital and notified a nurse, which might have saved his life. On the other hand, in the second case, the dealer was injecting a kid who was only sixteen years old.
Do the two suppliers deserve the same charge? Discuss.