It’s being called a “significant case” by Kerry Harvey, the U.S. Attorney for the eastern half of Kentucky. Significant because it’s the first time someone in that region has received a mandatory sentence of 20 years to life for causing a death by distributing prescription pills.
47 year old Judy McIntosh of Breathitt County pleaded guilty in U.S. District court to distribution of Oxycodone that resulted in death. She also admitted to a conspiracy charge. She will be formally sentenced in July.
“It's a very strong tool to say the least,” Harvey said of the mandatory sentence. He says his office will use the tool “at every level of the distribution chain.”
“Whether the trafficker happens to be a street corner drug pusher or someone operating a bogus pill mill or a physician who is writing bogus prescriptions,” said Harvey.
Drug overdoses now kill more people in Kentucky than traffic accidents. Kentucky has the sixth highest rate of overdose deaths from the abuse of prescription pills.
The plea agreement in the McIntosh case indicates that a woman she sold Oxycodone pills to “died later that evening at the defendant’s residence.” The court documents go on to say that the medical examiner’s report found the cause of death to be an Oxycodone overdose.
Harvey admits it is a challenge for prosecutors to trace an overdose death back to the drug dealer or prescriber. He says it requires the “proper evidence and proper proof.”