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Wisconsin car dealer named responsible for man's fatal overdose

If a person dies of a drug overdose, who should be held at fault? The individual who took the drugs, or the person who supplied them? That's the central issue in the case of a West Allis, Wisconsin, car dealership owner who's facing drug charges in connection with another man's death.

The auto dealer, who's been charged with first-degree reckless homicide, admitted to police he'd been selling cocaine to him once or twice a week for one or two months before the man was found dead in his home last May. Sometimes he accepted Percocet pills in exchange for the cocaine, he told police.

The dealership owner was already on probation for drug possession with intent to deliver, according to the criminal complaint. He told police he started selling drugs again because business was slow at his dealership. After a detective showed him a text message from the deceased man's phone, the dealer admitted to the transactions.

The man was charged under a local version of the Len Bias law, which is named after a basketball player who died of an overdose. The law allows prosecutors to charge drug dealers in deaths caused by overdose.

Although the car dealer likely didn't tell the man how much cocaine to use and had little control over how much he took at any given time, he's being prosecuted for another man's fatal mistake. People who supply drugs to others must keep in mind that they could be held criminally liable for the amount of illegal substances a user chooses to ingest. If they are charged with such a crime, it may be in their best interest to seek out a criminal defense attorney with experience handling drug charges.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Auto dealer charged in cocaine overdose," Jan. 5, 2012

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