Officials: Man who sold heroin held responsible for former wrestler’s death

A Ridge man who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge in Riverhead last year was indicted by a federal Grand Jury Wednesday on charges that he sold heroin to a Kings Park man who later overdosed on the drug in May.

Richard Jacobellis, 23, was indicted on two counts of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and one count of distribution of a controlled substance causing the death of Nicholas Weber, a 20-year Kings Park man who had been a Suffolk County wrestling champion at Kings Park High School, and was planning to attend Stony Brook University in the fall.

“The defendant is a drug dealer who for years peddled poisonous heroin to Long Islanders,” United States Attorney Robert Capers said in announcing the charges against Mr. Jacobellis Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Mr. Jacobellis had previously been arrested by Riverhead Town police on Jan. 17, 2015 on two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty to one of those charges on May 4, 2016 and was fined $205. The other charge was dismissed, according to court documents.

Additional information on that case was not immediately available.

If convicted of the federal charges, Mr. Jacobellis faces a minimum penalty of 20 years in jail and a maximum of life in prison, according to federal officials.

“The heroin epidemic on Long Island has cut short far too many young lives, like Nicholas,” Mr. Capers said. “To those heroin dealers who flood our streets with this highly addictive narcotic, be forewarned: if you sell heroin, my office and our law enforcement partners will prosecute you.”

In December, the Drug Enforcement Agency turned an online tip into a joint investigation with Suffolk County police, which eventually led to Mr. Jacobellis’ arrest, according to DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James Hunt.

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Prosecutors say Mr. Jacobellis distributed heroin on Long Island from 2012 until his arrest and his heroin nearly led to the death of another victim in March 2015. Suffolk County police officers responded to the scene and administered Naloxone, a nasal spray that reverses the effect of an opioid overdose, to save that man’s life.

On May 17, 2016, prosecutors say Mr. Jacobellis drove from Ridge to Kings Park and sold heroin to Mr. Weber for $100. Mr. Weber used that heroin, and died shortly afterward.

Mr. Jacobellis continued to sell heroin despite Mr. Weber’s death, and in mid-January of this year, he sold heroin to an undercover informant who was working with police, leading to his arrest, according to federal prosecutors.

Mr. Jacobellis pleaded not guilty to charges Wednesday and was ordered held without bail by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert.

Mr. Weber won the 195-pound, Division I wrestling title as a senior in 2014. He originally attended Lehigh University to wrestle but dropped out after six months, Newsday reported.

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