Wareham drug dealer to serve 6 to 8 years for selling fatal dose of heroin
A Wareham man’s state prison sentence for selling a fatal dose of heroin to a 25-year-old Onset woman sends drug dealers a strong message, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said Friday, April 6.
“If you are selling these drugs, you will be penalized, and you will go to jail,” said Cruz.
He spoke in the lobby of Brockton Superior Court after Steven Foss, 36, received a six- to eight-year prison sentence from Judge Brian Davis for the death of Paige Lopes. Foss will serve his sentence at Cedar Junction in Walpole.
On March 30, Foss was found guilty of manslaughter and five counts of distribution of a Class A substance (heroin). For each of the distribution charges, Foss was sentenced to serve four to five years concurrently.
Massachusetts prosecutors have been able to charge heroin dealers with manslaughter following a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling in 1990, but the conviction and sentence are a first for Plymouth County.
Cruz said prosecuting dealers for fatal overdoses are “incredibly challenging cases.” However, Friday’s sentence should serve as a warning to others.
“I am hopeful cases like this one have a strong deterrent factor for those pedaling poison in our cities and towns,” said Cruz.
Foss’ conviction and sentence arrived three years after Lopes was found dead from an overdose. She died Feb. 21, 2015. State Police determined she overdosed while using heroin sold to her by Foss through a third party earlier that day.
As part of the investigation, undercover officers bought drugs from Foss on four occasions in February and March of 2015. State Police then received a search warrant, and on March 11, seized heroin, packaging materials, cell phones and approximately $3,400 in cash. Foss was arrested that same day.
In court on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Richard Linehan sought a 10- to 12-year prison sentence for the manslaughter charge.
Patrick Noonan, Foss’ defense attorney, asked Davis to sentence Foss to two-and-half years in prison with five years probation.
Noonan said that Foss became addicted to heroin 10 years ago after being prescribed pain killers. He attempted several times to detox and stay clean before Lopes’ death. After his arrest, Foss successfully stayed off drugs and also found employment as a construction worker, Noonan said.
Foss told Davis he turned his life around in the years after Lopes’ death.
“My sympathy goes out to everyone who is suffering from the opioid epidemic, and I did what I could to become a productive citizen and a good person,” said Foss.
Linehan said Lopes’ father declined to give a statement before the sentencing.
“He was very involved when the case was first brought forward,” said Linehan. “He didn’t want to relive that time of his life.”
When the sentence was handed down, one person let out a cry of relief while a woman seated with Foss’ friends and relatives sobbed, then ran out of the courtroom.
Lawrence Philips, Lopes’ brother, spoke with reporters afterwards.
“I love her and this is justice for her,” said Philips. “She was a warm-hearted person…and she had a bright future.”