United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge.
David Piaquadio (“Piaquadio”) was charged by
indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute
controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846
(Count One), and three counts of possession with intent to
distribute and distribution of a controlled substance in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. §
2 (Counts Two through Four). The indictment charges that from
January 2011 through April 28, 2015, Piaquadio knowingly and
intentionally conspired to distribute Oxycodone tablets,
Fentanyl patches, and heroin, and that serious bodily injury
resulted from the use of those controlled substances. It
further charges that Piaquadio possessed with intent to
distribute, distributed, or attempted to distribute Oxycodone
or Fentanyl on three occasions-October 1, 2014, November 26,
2014, and March 12, 2015-and that serious bodily injury
resulted from use of the controlled substances distributed on
March 12, 2015.
1 and July 2, 2019, the court held a non-jury trial in the
above-captioned matter. The following memorandum constitutes
the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law
pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 23(c). For the
reasons set forth below, the court finds defendant David
Piaquadio (“Piaquadio”) guilty of Counts One
through Four of the indictment.
Findings of Fact
evidence adduced at trial falls into two categories: fact
witness testimony and documentary evidence concerning the
crimes alleged, and testimony from medical doctors on the
issues of causation and serious bodily injury. The
court's findings within each category of evidence follow.
Chronology of Events
at the Wellsboro Health Center prescribed Oxycodone tablets
and Fentanyl patches to Piaquadio and his then-girlfriend
Jane Flynn (“Flynn”) for chronic pain management.
To receive these prescriptions, Piaquadio signed a contract
acknowledging the terms and conditions for use of controlled
substances including, inter alia, that selling or
distributing his prescription medications to others is
October 1, 2014, Piaquadio filled prescriptions for Oxycodone
and Fentanyl at a pharmacy in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. As
Piaquadio left the pharmacy, a confidential
informant introduced undercover Pennsylvania State
Trooper Ryan Stillman Kelley (“Trooper Kelley”)
to Piaquadio in the parking lot. Piaquadio, Trooper Kelley,
and the confidential informant sat in Trooper Kelley's
vehicle, where Piaquadio provided Trooper Kelley with two
Fentanyl patches and ten Oxycodone pills in exchange for $290
in prerecorded currency.
Kelley and Piaquadio maintained contact through text messages
and phone conversations. On November 26, 2014, Trooper Kelley
arrived at Piaquadio's residence for a prearranged drug
transaction. Flynn, John Proctor (“Proctor”), and
Piaquadio's son, Garrett Piaquadio
(“Garrett”), were present in the home. Trooper
Kelley placed $250 in prerecorded currency on the kitchen
counter to purchase a quantity of pills. Before Piaquadio
produced any pills, Garrett asked Trooper Kelley to snort a
pill from the kitchen counter to prove he was not law
enforcement. Trooper Kelley refused, and Piaquadio and
Garrett disagreed as to whether to continue with the planned
transaction. Piaquadio and Garrett stepped into another room
to discuss the matter and then returned to the kitchen, at
which point Piaquadio began calculating how many Oxycodone
pills Trooper Kelley could purchase for $250. Garrett continued
to express concern that Trooper Kelley may be affiliated with
law enforcement, prompting Piaquadio to request that Trooper
Kelley snort a pill. Trooper Kelley again refused and left
the residence without purchasing narcotics from Piaquadio.
filled prescriptions for 150 Oxycodone tablets and 10
Fentanyl patches on the morning of March 12, 2015. That
afternoon, Joshua Cory Moroschok (“Moroschok”)
arrived at Piaquadio's home and used a bag of heroin
provided by Piaquadio. Moroschok then went to the grocery
store and ran an errand for Piaquadio in exchange for three
Oxycodone pills. When he returned with the groceries,
Moroschok asked Piaquadio for a Fentanyl patch. Piaquadio
agreed to provide a Fentanyl patch to Moroschok with the
understanding that he would pay for it after receiving a
paycheck the following day.
walked home that evening at approximately 7 p.m. with three
Oxycodone pills and one Fentanyl patch. Around midnight,
Moroschok used a portion of the Fentanyl patch to get high.
We credit Moroschok's testimony that he cut the Fentanyl
patch roughly into quarters, placed the quarter patch and
some citrus acid on a spoon, and used heat to cook the
narcotics out of the patch into the liquid. He used cotton
and a syringe to draw up the liquid and inject it into his
arm. Moroschok then lost consciousness.
mother, Earlene Margaret Shaw (“Shaw”),
discovered her son shortly after midnight on March 13, 2015,
slumped over on his bedroom floor, unconscious, and having
difficulty breathing. Shaw observed a metal spoon on the
floor and a needle in her son's arm. When Shaw rolled
Moroschok over to try to improve his breathing, the needle
stayed in his arm. Shaw called 911 for a medical emergency,
and Galeton Borough's chief of police, Christopher J.
Brackman (“Chief Brackman”), responded to the
scene. Upon entering the room, Chief Brackman administered a
sternum rub which failed to elicit a verbal response from
Moroschok. Chief Brackman noticed a spoon with a substance on
it, a burning candle on a stand next to the television, and a
needle stuck in the right arm sleeve of Moroschok's
shirt. When the ambulance crew arrived, emergency
medical technician Douglas Parsell (“Parsell”)
observed that Moroschok had a pulse, was breathing shallowly,
and was unresponsive.
was moved from the bedroom to the ambulance on a back board.
In the ambulance, Parsell recorded Moroschok's blood
oxygen saturation at 75% using pulse oximetry and described
Moroschok's condition as “life threatening.”
Parsell gave Moroschok six liters of oxygen to increase the
oxygen saturation in his blood, as well as a sternum rub
which successfully restored Moroschok to a level of
consciousness. Paramedic Donald James DuVall, Jr.
(“DuVall”), boarded the ambulance on route to the
hospital to provide advanced life support. DuVall recorded
Moroschok's blood saturation at 83% and noted that
Moroschok's speech was slurred and that he was confused.
Moroschok admitted to using Fentanyl, and DuVall administered
one milligram of Naloxone to improve Moroschok's
respiratory effort. The Naloxone caused Moroschok to vomit,
improved his blood oxygen saturation to 97%, and further
enhanced his level of consciousness.
medical physician Perry Doan, D.O. (“Dr. Doan”),
treated Moroschok upon his arrival at the hospital. Moroschok
presented with an oxygen saturation level of 98%. He
disclosed to emergency room personnel that he used heroin and
Fentanyl by needle in the last 24 hours. A preliminary
urinalysis screen at the hospital revealed the suspected
presence of opiates and cannabis in Moroschok's ...