Fatal Dover Twp. drug-delivery case dropped after eyewitness died
Charges have been dropped for a York City man who had been accused of selling heroin to a Dover Township woman who fatally overdosed on it.
George Bermudez, 43, appeared in York County Court on Tuesday, Dec. 11, where his charges of drug delivery resulting in death, drug dealing, conspiracy to deal drugs and illegally using a computer to commit a crime were dismissed, according to court records.
The felony of drug delivery resulting in death is akin in seriousness to a third-degree murder charge. Both carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 to 40 years in state prison.
Senior deputy prosecutor Jared Mellott said he had no choice but to drop the charges in what he said was a frustrating resolution to the case.
"Under the circumstances, we didn't have any other choice," he said, because "the key eyewitness is now dead."
The background: Northern York County Regional Police alleged Dianne Mokanyk overdosed on heroin that had been sold to her wife on Dec. 17, 2016.
Mokanyk, 56, of Dover Township, was pronounced dead at York Hospital the next day. An autopsy determined she died of mixed heroin and fentanyl toxicity, according to court documents.
She and her wife, Tracey Lynne Goheen, used the drugs that Goheen bought — allegedly from Bermudez's wife, at his direction — and Goheen was expected to testify to that at Bermudez's trial, according to Mellott.
But Goheen died Nov. 8, 2017, according to her obituary, which states she struggled with addiction.
Cause of death: York County Coroner Pam Gay said the cause of Goheen's death was listed by a doctor as obesity, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute and chronic mixed substance use.
"Tracey would have been the main evidence at trial," Mellott told The York Dispatch. "The other evidence wasn't sufficient (to win a conviction)."
He said this is the first drug delivery resulting in death case that has been withdrawn because a witness has died.
"In most of the drug delivery resulting in death cases I've handled, our main evidence has been text messages from cellphone records, in combination with statements by defendants," Mellott said.
Second case: Bermudez on Tuesday pleaded guilty in an unrelated case to illegally possessing a controlled substance. In exchange for his plea, a charge of tampering with evidence was dropped, records state.
Mellott said the controlled substance was heroin and that Bermudez had been charged with evidence-tampering because he tried to flush the drugs down a toilet as police closed in.
Bermudez was sentenced to 299 days to 23 months in York County Prison.
He had already spent 299 days in prison, meaning it was a time-served sentence, the prosecutor said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.
Meet our staff: Liz Evans Scolforo York Dispatch