Guilty plea in opioid overdose that killed Loudoun Co. man

A former Northern Virginia man who sold the heroin that killed a Leesburg man almost four years ago will face decades in prison, after admitting to a role in the death.

John Jacob Stapleton pleaded guilty Friday to the federal charge of distribution of heroin resulting in serious bodily injury and death. It’s in connection to the March 2016 death of a man whom prosecutors identify as “E.L.”

Prosecutors said Stapleton, 33, regularly obtained illegal opioids that he and others distributed to customers in Loudoun County and the D.C. area.

A forensic toxicologist determined that E.L. had morphine and 6-acetylmorphine in his body, and a forensic pathologist determined E.L. died from of heroin poisoning. The investigation determined that Stapleton provided the drugs to another person, who provided them to the victim.

Stapleton faces a maximum of life in prison when he’s sentenced on April 17. A federal judge will determine the length of Stapleton’s sentence, although the mandatory minimum sentence is 20 years behind bars.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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