Former Wesleyan student Eric Lonergan pled guilty on Monday to charges of distributing synthetic drugs that caused multiple student overdoses.
Lonergan pled guilty in federal court in New Haven to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and one count of conspiracy to distribute MDMA, commonly known as Molly. Like Zachary Kramer, another Wesleyan student who pled guilty to the same charges last month, Lonergan’s charges stem from an investigation into the distribution of controlled substances that caused multiple Wesleyan University students to overdose in February, according to Tom Carson, United States Attorney’s Office District of Connecticut spokesman. Lonergan, who was released on bond after he was arrested on May 22, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant in Hartford on Feb. 25. The charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and the charge to distribute MDMA, carry a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million.
Lonergan’s distribution started almost a year before students overdosed on drugs they purchased from him.
Beginning around November 2013, Lonergan began selling a substance he referred to as MDMA to students on and around Wesleyan’s campus, according to Carson’s press release. During the summer of 2014, Kramer began selling MDMA to Wesleyan students. Later that year, Kramer started purchasing what he believed to be MDMA from Lonergan and distributed it to Wesleyan students, according to Kramer and Lonergan’s joint indictment. Lonergan used a chemical test on the substance he sold to prove to Kramer that he was selling high-quality MDMA, Carson said in the release.
In December of last year, Kramer took over for Lonergan as the primary supplier of Molly on campus. He still received bulk quantities of MDMA from Lonergan, which Kramer then broke down and distributed in smaller doses.
“This defendant trafficked in a drug that caused multiple overdoses and nearly took the life of one Wesleyan student,” U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said in Carson’s press release. “As evidenced by this investigation and prosecution, Molly and other synthetic drugs are clearly not innocuous party drugs. Students who use synthetic drugs can never be certain what they are ingesting. Wesleyan students who bought these drugs from this dorm-room chemist literally risked their lives by relying on his purported expertise.”
Michael Sklaire, one of Lonergan’s attorneys, declined to comment on the case.
In September 2014, Lonergan provided students with several grams of a substance he claimed was MDMA, according to Carson’s press release. After a party that same month where the students ingested Lonergan’s drugs, the group of students who ingested them became ill. They claimed to suffer from effects such as extreme lethargy and extreme irrational fear, and two were transported to the hospital. One student saved the 0.1 gram capsule she had purchased from Lonergan and gave it to the Middletown Police Department, according to the indictment.
A toxicology report revealed that the contents were AB-Fubinaca — a Schedule I controlled substance — and 6-MAPB, an analogue of MDMA. None of the sample was found to be MDMA. The Drug Enforcement Administration defines a Schedule I controlled substance as the most dangerous class of drug because of its high potential for abuse and the potential for severe dependence.
Carson said 11 individuals, including 10 Wesleyan students, overdosed on the substance on Feb. 21 and many were transported to the hospital. Two of the students were in critical condition and one had to be revived after his heart stopped. All of these students obtained the purported MDMA through individual distributors whom Kramer directly supplied, he added.
Though many who possessed the drug tried to destroy the substance, one distributor failed to do so, and Middletown law enforcement seized it as evidence. Once again, laboratory testing revealed that the substance was AB-Fubinaca, not MDMA, according to the release.
Two people died in Connecticut last year due to accidental overdoses of MDMA, according to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.