Featured Story

Riverhead drug dealer to serve 4 to 6 years following fatal overdose

A Riverhead man was sentenced to four to six years in a federal prison for his role in a 2018 fatal overdose that led to charges against three men who allegedly supplied the victim with heroin cut with fentanyl.

John Brophy, 50, of Riverhead pleaded guilty Aug. 30 to second-degree manslaughter and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, both felonies. The manslaughter charged stemmed from the overdose death of Lawrence Yaccarino of Riverhead.

Mr. Brophy said he was sorry at his sentencing before Judge Anthony Senft last Thursday.

“Both of us are fighting the same demons,” he said to the victim’s family. “I didn’t sell drugs to make money. I did it to feed my own drug habit.”

Mr. Brophy allegedly sold drugs out of an auto repair shop on Lincoln Avenue in Riverhead, owned by Bryan Hale of Flanders, who also pleaded guilty to the same charge and is expected to be sentenced later this month.

Riverhead Town Police responded to the scene of the fatal overdose on Sweezey Avenue in Riverhead on Sept. 19, 2018. A preliminary investigation revealed that Mr. Yaccarino, 50, overdosed on a mixture of heroin and other substances, including fentanyl.

Officials determined that Mr. Brophy, acting in concert with Mr. Hale, had allegedly sold the drugs to the victim, and that further investigation revealed that Lashawn Lawrence of Greenport was allegedly Mr. Brophy’s supplier for the narcotics. Mr. Lawrence was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter at trial last month, but found guilty of a lesser fourth-degree conspiracy charge in the case. Mr. Lawrence is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 15.

Vincent Martinelli, a former NYPD officer and cousin of Mr. Yaccarino, fought back tears in the courtroom and again in the hallway before speaking with the media.

“I called [Brophy] a demon and I do believe he’s a demon,” he said. “Not only did he contribute to my cousin’s death, his actions along with all the rest [of the drug dealers] have contributed to many other deaths.”

Mr. Martinelli called his cousin a “beautiful man.”

“He was an artist, a draftsman, and he had an imagination that was a thing to behold,” he said. “He loved people like you could not believe.”

When the indictments were first announced, District Attorney Timothy Sini it was only the third time in Suffolk County history that manslaughter charges were brought against drug dealers in connection with a fatal overdose.

Last Thursday, he said justice has been served.

“Part of our strategy in addressing this opioid epidemic is to treat drug dealers who are causing fatal overdoes like murderers, because that’s what they are,” Mr. Sini said.

[email protected]