Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that LUIS LEE was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court with narcotics distribution resulting in the death of Pathjrie Roman, who died two days before her 21st birthday. LEE was arrested today and will be presented this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, Luis Lee peddled a lethal combination of drugs that caused the death of Pathjrie Roman. Working with the NYPD, we will continue to combat the epidemic of lethal opioids.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “The NYPD continues to work to end the trafficking of illegal opioids and bring to justice those who profit from their distribution. We commend and thank the detectives and the attorneys of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District whose hard work resulted in this arrest.”
As alleged in the Complaint:
On or about September 18, 2020, Pathjrie Roman contacted LEE on Instagram and asked for Xanax and a depressant, or a “downer,” of which heroin is a type. That evening, LEE met Roman outside her apartment in the Bronx and delivered the Xanax and heroin. The heroin, however, was mixed with fentanyl. LEE’s meeting with Roman was corroborated by their contemporaneous Instagram messages, by LEE’s cellphone location, by building surveillance, and by witness information.
The next day, September 19, 2020, NYPD and emergency medical personnel found Roman deceased at her apartment. Following an autopsy, the New York City Medical Examiner determined that Roman died of acute intoxication from the combined effects of fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, heroin, and alprazolam (generic Xanax). Hidden inside Roman’s phone case were four glassines containing residue of fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, and heroin.
On or about September 20, 2020, another Instagram user told LEE that Roman had died. Within 24 hours, LEE deleted the Instagram account that he had used to communicate with Roman.
On or about November 11, 2020, NYPD personnel executed a search of LEE’s bedroom and recovered 12 glassines matching the appearance of the glassines inside Roman’s phone case. The glassines in LEE’s bedroom contained fentanyl.
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LUIS LEE, 26, of New York, New York, is charged with narcotics distribution resulting in death, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The minimum and maximum potential sentences described above are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the assigned judge.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Alexander Li is in charge of the prosecution.
The charge against the defendant is merely an accusation, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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