Eric Lonergan, 23, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, pleaded guilty on Monday in New Haven federal court to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and to distribute, MDMA, (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), popularly known as ecstasy or, more recently as Molly, a synthetic, psychoactive drug.
The charge stems from an investigation into the distribution of controlled substances that caused multiple Wesleyan University students to overdose earlier this year.
The guilty pleas were announced by Deirdre Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut on Monday.
“This defendant trafficked in a drug that caused multiple overdoses and nearly took the life of one Wesleyan student,” Daly announced in a statement.
“As evidenced by this investigation and prosecution, Molly and other synthetic drugs are clearly not innocuous party drugs. Students who use synthetic drugs can never be certain what they are ingesting,” Daly said.
“Wesleyan students who bought these drugs from this dorm-room chemist literally risked their lives by relying on his purported expertise.” – Deirdre Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut
Daly thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Middlesex State’s Attorney’s Office and the Middletown Police Department for their collaboration and work in the investigation.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Lonergan and Zachary Kramer were students at Wesleyan in Middletown. Beginning in approximately November 2013, Lonergan began selling a substance he referred to as both “Molly” and MDMA to students on or in the vicinity of the Wesleyan campus.
Lonergan regularly sold Molly from his dorm room, charging approximately $20 per .1 gram, or $200 per gram, Lonergan also counseled students on how to ingest Molly and other psychedelic drugs.
At one point in 2014, after the administration at Wesleyan sent out a campus-wide communication warning of the dangers of ingesting controlled substances like Molly, Lonergan responded by distributing a pamphlet instructing students on the use of psychedelic drugs.
In approximately September 2014, Kramer began purchasing what he believed to be Molly from Lonergan and distributed it to students at Wesleyan. At times, Lonergan used a chemical test on the substance he sold Kramer to prove to him that he was selling Kramer high-quality MDMA.
In September 2014, Lonergan was the source of Molly for several students who were planning a “rolling” party at Wesleyan, which is a party where guests ingest Molly. He provided several grams of a substance he represented to be MDMA, in bulk, and another student then distributed it to students in .1 gram capsules. At this party, which occurred on September 13, 2014, several students became ill, some seriously, after ingesting the substance provided by Lonergan. Two of these students were transported to the hospital. After these overdoses, Lonergan sent electronic communications to several students assuring them that the substance he provided to them was indeed MDMA. One of the students who became ill at the party saved one of the capsules she had purchased and turned it over to the Middletown Police in February 2015. A lab test on the contents of that capsule revealed that it did not contain MDMA, but contained two other controlled substances: AB Fubinaca, a Schedule I controlled substance, and 6-MAPB, an analogue of MDMA.
In approximately December 2014, Kramer became the primary supplier of MDMA at Wesleyan. Kramer typically would sell the MDMA in .1 gram quantities for $20 each or he would sell it in 5-gram and 10-gram quantities for a discount, charging $100 or more, depending on the customer and the quantity. During this time period, Lonergan still supplied Kramer with bulk quantities of MDMA. In approximately January 2015, Kramer purchased approximately 45 grams of MDMA from Lonergan. Kramer broke that quantity into 5 and 10-gram bags and distributed those bags to other students who planned to break down the MDMA into .1 gram capsules, sell those capsules to other Wesleyan students, and pay Kramer for the quantity of the drug he had provided to them.
On February 21, 2015, 11 individuals, including 10 Wesleyan students, overdosed on a substance they believed was MDMA, and many were transported to the hospital. Two of the students were in critical condition, and one of the students had to be revived after his heart stopped. All of these students obtained the purported MDMA through individual distributers who were supplied directly by Kramer.
Although Kramer and some of his distributers destroyed the substance identified as Molly that they had in their possession, one of the distributers did not, and that substance was seized by law enforcement officers and sent to the toxicology laboratory for testing. Laboratory analysis confirmed that the powdered substance contained AB Fubinaca.
The charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and to distribute, MDMA carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a maximum fine of $1 million. Lonergan is scheduled to be sentenced by on February 25, 2016, in Hartford. He has been released on bond since his federal arrest on May 22, 2015.
On November 12, 2015, Kramer pleaded guilty to the same charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Bryant on February 11, 2016.
This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Middletown Police Department, with the assistance of the State of Connecticut’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
U.S. Attorney Daly acknowledged the support and assistance of the Middlesex State’s Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting several state cases stemming from these overdose events.
The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Robert Spector and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Eugene Calistro, who has been cross-designated as a Special Assistant US Attorney in this matter.