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East Lyme man sentenced to 18 months for drug sale that led to overdose death

October 4, 2018

A 27-year-old East Lyme man was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for distributing heroin with fentanyl that contributed to the June 4, 2016, overdose death of Fred Pardini.

Christopher Stevens had pleaded guilty in May 2017 to one count of distribution of heroin.

According to court documents, East Lyme police found Pardini, 25, slumped over the steering wheel of a car, dead, after responding about 1 a.m. on June 4, 2016, to a call about a running car parked near the intersection of Naomi Lane and Wilbur Lane. His 3-year-old son was sleeping in a car seat in the back seat but later told a responding officer “car broken” and “daddy sleeping.”

Pardini had in his hand a crumpled-up wax baggy and a bank receipt showing a withdrawal of $300. Police said they found three additional empty baggies underneath the driver’s seat, an unused syringe in the victim’s pocket and a morphine pill in his wallet. He also had a cellphone.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Pardini died of acute heroin and fentanyl toxicity and also had benzodiazepine in his system.

Stevens lived about a tenth of a mile away on Boston Post Road, and investigators used phone records to confirm that he had arranged to meet with Pardini and sell him drugs in the hours before Pardini’s death.

According to a sentencing memorandum submitted to the judge by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer R. Laraia, Stevens was with Pardini when he injected the drugs. Pardini overdosed immediately, and Stevens moved him to the passenger’s seat so he could drive the car down the street. He moved Pardini back to the driver’s seat and left the car without summoning help.

“Instead, he left (Pardini’s) car running, left (Pardini) to die, and left a toddler alone in a car with his dead or dying father,” Laraia wrote in the memo.

Defense attorney Paul F. Thomas wrote in his sentencing memorandum that Stevens, a drug user since middle school, has completed treatment through the federal government’s court support program and has embraced recovery and is helping others to stay clean.

“What followed this addiction-related death has been profoundly transformational: the addicted supplier of the fentanyl/ heroin, who as readily could have died from his own use of it, got clean with the assistance of resources made available through the court,” the memorandum said.

The case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer presided.

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