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Ashtabula man convicted of manslaughter for overdose death after 3-year investigation

Overdose Deaths
Posted at 4:00 PM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 16:00:15-04

ASHTABULA, Ohio — An Ashtabula man was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and other charges, including possession of and trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound, after a three-year drug investigation, according to a news release from the Crime Enforcement Agency of Ashtabula County.

Marvin J. White, 71, was found guilty by a jury on two counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of corrupting another with drugs, three counts of trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound, one count of aggravated possession of drugs, one count of possession of a fentanyl-related compound and one count of possession of criminal tools, the release states.

The verdict is a result of a three-year investigation by the Crime Enforcement Agency of Ashtabula County following a drug overdose death, the release states.

Between 2015 and 2020, the average age-adjusted rate of unintentional drug overdoses in Ashtabula County was 33.8 deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to Scioto County, which had the highest death rate of 83.4 deaths per 100,000 people, according to a July 2022 report from the Ohio Department of Health. Trumbull County, just south of Ashtabula County, had a death rate of 61.4, nearly double that of Ashtabula.

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County-by-county map of the overdose death rates in Ohio between 2015 and 2020.

Statewide, drug overdose deaths trended upward from a rate of 36.3 in March 2019 to a peak of 49.8 in March 2021, according to the CDC.

The total number of unintentional drug overdose deaths in the first half of 2021 was higher than in the first half of 2020, according to ODH.

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Chart of the total number of unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio from 2019 to 2021.

Among unintentional drug overdose deaths, fentanyl surpassed heroin as the primary cause of overdose deaths in 2016 and has been largely trending upwards in Ohio since, ODH data shows. There were 4,041 total deaths related to fentanyl in 2020, a 32% increase over the previous year.

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Chart of the number of overdose deaths caused by each type of drug in Ohio over time.

Among the types of drugs to cause overdose deaths in Ohio, heroin was the only substance that saw a decline in related deaths, having caused nearly 50% of overdose deaths in 2015 and only 6% of deaths in 2020.

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Chart showing percent of total overdose deaths caused by each type of drug, by year.

White is one of several in Ashtabula County and one of many across Northeast Ohio to receive a manslaughter conviction for another person’s overdose death in recent years.

Three people were indicted in Ashtabula County in 2020 for drug overdose deaths, including a woman arrested for selling heroin and carfentanil to a man who had a lethal amount of carfentanil in his system, and two men indicted for allegedly providing a man with methamphetamine and fentanyl, both of which were found in a lethal amount in his bloodstream after his 2019 death.

Last year, an Akron woman was sentenced to 5 to 7.5 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the overdose deaths of two people — one who had methamphetamine and carfentanil in their system and another who died from a methamphetamine and fentanyl overdose.

In addition to criminal enforcement, conviction and sentencing for overdose deaths, Northeast Ohio communities will have millions of dollars at their disposal over the next two decades or so to invest in fighting the opioid epidemic through prevention and social services thank to legal settlements reached with several opioid producers, such as Johnson and Johnson.

As reported by News 5 last week, Cleveland received $2.8 million over the next 18 years, which city officials said will be broadly used for opioid abuse prevention and treatment as well as mental health and addiction services.

Watch that report below:

'A light in the darkness': Legal settlements, work of non-profits to turn tide in opioid epidemic

RELATED: 'A light in the darkness': Legal settlements, work of non-profits to turn tide in opioid epidemic

The Star Beacon reported earlier this year that Ashtabula County will receive $64,339.81 from the settlement, while cities within the county will receive mostly four-figure sums for their opioid overdose prevention efforts.

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