NORRISTOWN — A Norristown man has been sent to state prison after admitting to supplying the dangerous drug fentanyl that ended up in the hands of an Upper Merion woman who later died of an overdose.

Isaiah Alan Strickland, 21, of the 200 block of Nassau Place, was sentenced in Montgomery County Circuit Court to 6 to 12 years in the state penitentiary after pleading guilty to drug delivery resulting in death and possession with intent to deliver controlled substance in connection with the May 7, 2021, overdose death of Valerie Gervasi, 21, of Upper Merion.

Judge Thomas P. Rogers imposed the sentence as part of the plea agreement.

A second man charged in connection with Gervasi’s overdose death, Ryan Noonan, 25, of the 300 block of Village Court, Perkiomen Township, previously pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and possession with intent to deliver fentanyl. Specifically, Noonan admitted to acting recklessly or recklessly when he helped supply the victims with fentanyl.

Noonan, who remains in jail awaiting sentencing, originally faced a more serious charge of drug delivery resulting in death, but that charge was changed to manslaughter, which is a misdemeanor.

The involuntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison.

With the charges against both men, detectives say Strickland supplied the fentanyl to Noonan, who then passed the drug to Gervasi.

The investigation began around 8:30 p.m. on May 8, 2021, when Upper Merion police responded to Gervasi’s apartment in the 900 block of Parkview Drive after family members asked police to check on her after receiving no reports from her. according to the criminal complaint. District Detective Michael Laverty and Upper Merion Detective John Wright Jr. filed.

Police found Gervasi dead in her living room and found several clear bags containing a white powdery substance on the kitchen counter. Investigators determined the substance was consistent with heroin/fentanyl. Testing of the substances showed they contained fentanyl, according to court documents.

“A search of the trash in the kitchen revealed an empty plain blue wax packet. This bag was similar to the other bags on the counter and was consistent with the packaging material used for heroin or fentanyl,” Laverty and Wright state. “After interviewing the victim’s family, police learned that she struggled with substance abuse and had been in rehab in the past.”

An autopsy revealed Gervasius’ cause of death was multiple drug intoxication, including fentanyl and xylazine, which is a veterinary sedative used on large animals such as cattle and horses. Xylazine has become a deadly cutting agent used by drug dealers, detectives wrote in court documents.

When detectives looked through the contents of Gervasi’s phone, they found messages from a Facebook account associated with Noonan, according to court documents. Specifically, detectives alleged that Gervasi contacted Noonan with the intent of purchasing heroin/fentanyl, “a service that Noonan confirmed he could provide.”

“Noonan directed Gervasi to his home after indicating that he needed Gervasi to pick him up and drive him to his supplier,” Laverty and Wright allege. “That supplier was identified by the police, and eventually by Noonan himself, as Isaiah Strickland.”

After picking up Noonan, Gervasi drove Noonan to the area of ​​Strickland’s residence in Norristown, and Noonan used Gervasi’s cell phone to negotiate a final price with Strickland, detectives allege. Noonan then took $140 from Gervasi and used it to buy drugs from Strickland, approximately 22 bags of heroin/fentanyl.

“The medication Noonan purchased from Strickland was the medication that ultimately caused Valerie Gervasi’s overdose death,” Laverty and Wright argued. “Noonan then delivered the drugs to Gervasi, who drove Noonan home before returning to her apartment where she consumed the drugs she had purchased and subsequently died.”

On May 14, 2021, detectives executed a search warrant at Strickland’s residence, and several packages of heroin/fentanyl were found, according to court documents. Detectives also found digital scales and $8,000 in currency.

Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle Hughes prosecuted the case. Strickland was represented by attorney Joshua Harris Camson.