A Perkiomen man has admitted his role in a woman’s fentanyl overdose death

NORRISTOWN — A Perkiomen Township man is awaiting his fate from a judge after he pleaded guilty to recklessness or negligence when he helped deliver the dangerous drug fentanyl to an Upper Merion woman who later died of an overdose.

Ryan Noonan, 25, of the 300 block of Village Court, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County District Court to involuntary manslaughter and possession with intent to deliver fentanyl in connection with the May 7, 2021, overdose death of Valerie Gervasi, 21, of Upper Merion.

Under state law, a person commits involuntary manslaughter when, through an act of recklessness or gross negligence, he causes the death of another person.

Judge Thomas P. Rogers delayed sentencing so court officials could complete an investigative report on Noonan, who will undergo drug, alcohol and mental health screenings.

The open guilty plea means Noonan has no deal to make with prosecutors regarding his potential sentence. The accusation of unintentional murder provides maximum sentence of 2 and a half to 5 years in prison.

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.

A second man charged in connection with Gervasi’s overdose death, Isaiah Strickland, 21, of the 200 block of Nassau Place, Norristown, is still awaiting arraignment on charges of drug delivery resulting in death, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, conspiracy and criminal use of communications. A conviction for drug delivery resulting in death carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

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 dated May 7 from a Facebook account linked to Noonan, according to court documents. Specifically, detectives allege Gervasi contacted Noonan with the intent of purchasing heroin/fentanyl, “a service Noonan confirmed he could provide.”

“Noonan directed Gervasi to his home after indicating that he needed Gervasi to pick him up and take him to his supplier,” Laverty and Wright alleged. “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. Nunan then took $ 140 from Gervazi and used them to buy drugs in Stricland, about 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 Gabriel Hughes is prosecuting the case. Noonan is represented by attorney William S. DeNardo.

Back to top button