LONDON — A Breathitt County woman is believed to be the first person federally sentenced in the Eastern District of Kentucky for causing an overdose death by illegally supplying the drugs.
Judy McIntosh, 48, appeared before U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove on Wednesday where she was formally sentenced to more than 27 years in prison for her role in the 2010 death of a 19-year-old woman, said U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.
The case, a joint investigation by Operation UNITE and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, was welcomed by law enforcement officials.
“Those who illegally sell drugs have been put on notice by this precedent-setting case,” said Dan Smoot, vice president and law enforcement director of Operation UNITE. “We still have to prove that a person sold the drugs, and that someone died as a result of taking the drugs, but now every time that somebody sells a pill they will have to worry about being charged with murder if that person dies.”
“We certainly hope that this will serve as a deterrent, that the people out there who are engaged in the trafficking of these very dangerous drugs would take note at the fate that could await them should death result from their illegal activities,” Harvey noted.
McIntosh’s case began two years ago as part of a larger investigation into drugs being brought into Breathitt and Lee counties from Florida, Smoot said.
Between August 2010 and June 28, 2011, McIntosh conspired with others to distribute oxycodone, according to court records.
During one of those transactions, on Oct. 2, 2010, McIntosh sold oxycodone pills to Ashley Ritchie, who died later that evening at McIntosh’s home in Breathitt County.
A medical examiner’s report established the cause of death as an oxycodone overdose.
DEA officials and UNITE detectives arrested McIntosh on a federal indictment warrant in Lee County in 2011.
On March 28 McIntosh entered a guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram to two charges: 1) conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally distribute oxycodone, and 2) distribution of oxycodone that resulted in death from the use of oxycodone.
“The circumstances of this case did make it easier to make this prosecution because of the very close link between Ms. McIntosh and the victim and the drugs that caused the death,” Harvey said.
Under federal law, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison when an overdose death can be linked to a dealer who provided the drugs.
For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.