Man jailed for selling fentanyl in Costa Mesa that led to fatal overdose – Orange County Register

A Virginia man who admitted selling a bag of fentanyl from a Costa Mesa motel, which later caused a 22-year-old woman’s fatal overdose, was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison.

Matthew Benjamin Hurley told US District Judge James V. Selna during a sentencing hearing in federal court in Santa Ana that he is “100 percent responsible” for the August 2020 death of Rose Avelar from an overdose in Huntington Beach . Hurley – referring to his own battle with addiction – accepted a plea deal last year in which he admitted possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, which resulted in a death.

“I never wanted anyone to get hurt,” Hurley told the judge. “The person I am on drugs is not who I want to be … I’m sick of the misery and pain my addiction has caused.”

Avelar’s parents, brother and sister-in-law traveled from Massachusetts to attend the hearing and made emotional statements to the judge about the enduring pain their deaths have caused them. They described her as a “beautiful, dedicated young woman” who was excited about her new apartment and upcoming college courses.

“You stole her from me,” Austin Avelar, Rose’s brother, told Hurley. “She died alone, far from me and my family, and the pain of her death is so deep that I feel like it will never end.”

Luis Avelar, Rose’s father, noted that Hurley continued to sell fentanyl even after learning of the overdose death.

“He decided to earn his living from the misery of other people,” said the father. “He carried on as if nothing had happened.”

Hurley’s attorney, Samuel Cross, unsuccessfully pleaded for a shorter sentence of 10 years, arguing that Velar specifically purchased fentanyl from Hurley, not another drug that had unknowingly had fentanyl laced with it.

“But she wouldn’t have died for that sale,” Selna interjected.

“Had Mr. Hurley not been available, there would have been a different seller,” Cross replied.

“I have trouble with that reasoning,” the judge said. “If there are multiple perpetrators, does that make the crime any less serious?”

The judge eventually recognized both the devastating effects of the death on Avelar’s family and the difficult childhood that led Hurley to drug use and dealing.

Hurley was one of more than half a dozen suspected drug dealers charged at the federal level in April 2022 after prosecutors said they sold fentanyl-laced narcotics that led to 10 deaths in Orange County.

All suspected dealers were charged with distributing fentanyl, causing death. If convicted in court, they faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and possibly life in prison without parole. Man jailed for selling fentanyl in Costa Mesa that led to fatal overdose – Orange County Register

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