SHELTON, Conn. — A 20-year-old drug dealer from Derby was sentenced to nearly seven years in federal prison for selling heroin linked to three overdoses — one of which was fatal, prosecutors said.
Bradley Commerford, who pleaded guilty in May, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 71 months in prison, followed by six years of supervised release. He was also ordered to perform 150 hours of community service while on supervised release.
“While this defendant has faced difficulties and struggled with addiction himself, his reckless behavior cannot be excused,” said U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly. “He regularly distributed heroin to teenagers and sold heroin after being convicted in state court of several serious felony offenses.
"More disturbing, even after the overdose death in this case, he continued to sell heroin and was arrested while on his way to purchase a distribution quantity of heroin from his source in Waterbury."
According to court documents and statements made in court, the case involved two nonfatal heroin overdoses that occurred in Shelton on Feb. 16, involving an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old. It also involved a fatal overdose that occurred in Derby on Feb. 17 in which a 23-year-old man died.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner subsequently issued a report listing the Derby victim’s cause of death as “acute fentanyl intoxication.”
The investigation, which included victim and witness interviews, as well as analysis of text messages, identified Commerford as the heroin source of supply in all three overdoses. The investigation also found that he had sold heroin to a 16-year-old who did not overdose.
"This sentence will help to protect the public, give this defendant substantial time to consider and address his own addiction and, hopefully provide some small measure of solace to the victim’s family," Daly said. "We will continue to prioritize opioid overdose cases and target heroin and fentanyl dealers to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and prosecute those responsible for it.”
Commerford has been detained since his arrest on Feb. 18. On May 6, he pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of heroin to an individual who is under 21 years of age.
“Those suffering from the disease of heroin addiction need access to treatment and recovery,” said Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England. “But those responsible for distributing lethal drugs like heroin and fentanyl to the citizens of Connecticut need to be held accountable for their actions. In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic DEA and its local, state and federal partners are committed to bringing to justice those that distribute this poison.”
The case was investigated by the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, Derby Police Department and Shelton Police Department. The squad includes participants from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon, Wilton, Milford, Monroe, Fairfield and Middlebury Police Departments, and the Connecticut State Police.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Spector.