ALBANY — A Columbia County man was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he admitted he sold heroin and fentanyl to two Columbia County people who died in 2016 as a result.
Jacob Ebel, 32, of Niverville pleaded guilty Sept. 11, 2019, admitting he sold heroin, fentanyl and other controlled substances from 2014 to 2016, in Columbia County, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith.
In addition to serving 18 years in prison, Ebel will also serve a three-year term of supervised release. The sentence was agreed to by Jaquith’s office and Ebel in September 2019 under a plea deal, and was imposed by U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino at Ebel’s sentencing Wednesday.
Ebel was convicted on a four-count indictment, including one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury or death, and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, under federal law.
“You are forever intertwined with the senseless, tragic deaths of two people who were loved by their families,” D’Agostino told Ebel at his sentencing.
The case stemmed from the overdose deaths of a man and a woman in the summer of 2016 as a result of drugs they purchased from Ebel.
A 29-year-old man identified in court only as “S.B.” was found overdosed and unconscious in Niverville on July 3, 2016, less than a mile from Ebel’s house.
“A state police investigation established that prior to the overdose, S.B. had had extensive text message communications with Ebel, and that Ebel had sold heroin and fentanyl to S.B. at about 2:15 p.m. on July 3, 2016, several hours before S.B. was found unresponsive,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Inside S.B.’s vehicle, state police located a folded, yellow sticky note with heroin and fentanyl, and ‘4-0’ written on the outside — the amount of money that S.B. told the defendant he had in the text message conversations,” according to the statement.
Ebel and S.B. were friends, and Ebel continued to deal heroin and fentanyl even though he knew S.B. had died, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On July 23, 2016, a 19-year-old woman, identified as “S.S.,” was found dead when the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at a home in Stuyvesant.
Investigators found three folded sticky notes, which contained heroin and fentanyl, in a small plastic bag on the woman’s bed. Sheriff’s investigators found that Ebel had sold the drugs to S.S.’s husband in the days prior to her death, and that she had taken them and died.
Officers executed a search warrant at Ebel’s home July 26, 2016, and found 16 grams of heroin and fentanyl.
Ebel was arrested that day and has remained in custody since that time.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, rather than the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office, because New York law does not include a charge related to injury or death that results from an illegal drug sale, District Attorney Paul Czajka said.
“We had deferred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office because they are able to prosecute cases such as this with the possibility of much greater punishment than New York state law allows,” Czajka said. “There is no equivalent in New York law with respect to distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury or death.”
The investigation was conducted jointly by state police Troop K and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office.