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Two charged with drug distribution that allegedly caused death

October 02, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

BALTIMORE - A Hagerstown man and an Olney, Md., woman who were indicted in September on drug trafficking charges in connection with prescription drug distribution in Boonsboro had hearings in federal court Monday.

Robert Carroll Eichelberger, 36, of Hagerstown, and Kathleen Ann Harris, 38, of Olney, were indicted in connection with the distribution of methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone in Western Maryland to high school students since January 2007, a United States Attorney said in a news release.

The indictments were unsealed Monday.

In count one of the indictment, both were charged with distributing substances containing methadone which resulted in death.

A juvenile in Boonsboro died after the methadone was consumed with alcohol, which can be fatal even when only a small quantity of methadone is taken, according to the news release.

Eichelberger also was charged with one count of distributing oxycodone Sept. 13 and one count of distributing methadone Sept. 14.

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The investigation began in July, around the time a juvenile died, said Kyle Williamson, resident agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration in Hagerstown.

Evidence presented Monday during the detention hearings showed that the prescription drugs were distributed to high school students in Boonsboro.

Investigators believe the conspiracy dates to January, Williamson said.

The alleged distribution had a big impact in the Hagerstown, Boonsboro and Smithsburg areas, Williamson said.

School officials are aware that drug activity takes place in every community in Washington County and are partners with law enforcement, school system spokesman Will Kauffman said Monday afternoon.

"We're trying to be proactive," he said.

If convicted, both defendants face a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison for the conspiracy count and for distribution of methadone resulting in death. Eichelberger also faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the two additional distribution counts.

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