By Bill Parry
An Astoria man will spend the next four years in prison for selling heroin laced with Fentanyl to at least two people who nearly died from drug overdoses, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said last week.
Bernard Lewis, 46, pleaded guilty in April to criminal sale of a controlled substance, the DA said. Lewis was arrested following a long-term drug investigation in Astoria and Jackson Heights, which involved court-authorized wiretaps that monitored drug sales, Brown said. A court-ordered search warrant at Lewis’ Astoria home was executed on July 19, 2017, and police found one large rock of Fentanyl and glassine envelopes used to package Fentanyl and heroin, and $2,900 in cash, according to the charges.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Melendez sentenced Lewis to four years in prison, to be followed by three years’ post release supervision.
“Most troubling is we are witnessing heroin mixed with the synthetic drug Fentanyl, a substance that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin,” Brown said. “Many users are not aware that the drugs they are using are laced with Fenatanyl and therefore much deadlier that just heroin alone. However, the defendant was told he was selling drugs that contained Fentanyl and that the drugs were killing people.”
Court-authorized wiretaps recorded conversations Lewis had between April 6, 2017, and June 17, 2017, with six individuals who asked to purchase drugs from him, according to the charges. After finding the quantity of drugs that each buyer wanted, Lewis or one of his associates, then handled the exchange of drugs for cash. In each instance, the buyers were arrested and the seized drugs chemically analyzed and confirmed to contain Fentanyl, according to the charges.
Additionally, a Rikers Island inmate used a Department of Correction phone on May 11, 2017, to place a call to Lewis and Lewis was told the inmate’s bail was too high because the drugs he was caught selling contained Fentanyl “and that Fentanyl was killing people.”
“The investigation into this case commenced with the near fatal overdoses of two individuals who bought from the defendant,” Brown said. “In a recorded phone conversation, the defendant was told he was selling drugs that contained Fentanyl and that the drugs were killing people.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr