New Haven men plead guilty in connection to fentanyl overdoses

This story originally appeared in the New Haven Register.

HARTFORD >> Two New Haven men each have pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance in connection with a series of overdoses that plagued the city in late June, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On June 23, 17 individuals, who reportedly believed they were using cocaine, overdosed on what was later determined to be cocaine laced with fentanyl, according to authorities. Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid reported to be 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Frank Pina, 57, and Steven Whaley, 48, were arrested as two of the suspected suppliers of the drugs in connection with those overdoses — three of which were fatal.

Both Pina and Whaley pleaded guilty Thursday and are scheduled to be sentenced this fall. They both face a maximum prison term of 20 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The investigation revealed that Whaley, also an employee for New Haven Public Schools, sometimes acted as a middle man for Pina, police said.

A third suspect, Jerome Clay, was arrested in connection with this case. Clay has not been indicted and is free on bond.

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