Drug Dealer Sentenced to 210 Months in Fentanyl Overdose Death

David Michael Busse of Temecula was sentenced in federal court today to 17 1/2 years in prison for supplying the fentanyl that led to the fatal overdose of 35-year-old Brook W. Jacoby on May 20, 2021. Two drug couriers for Busse – Roger Bionogers Santiago of Valley Center and Vanessa Lanae Lathan of Spring Valley  – were also sentenced today to 78-months and 68-months, respectively, for their roles in delivering the deadly dose of fentanyl to the victim.

In imposing sentence on Busse, Judge Bashant emphasized that he clearly “knew the dangers of fentanyl” and given his drug dealing history, this outcome “was just a matter of time.”

According to the government’s sentencing papers, Jacoby was the father of a young daughter and had become engaged to be married five days before his death. He was a high-performing salesperson who was training for an upcoming triathlon. One of his siblings described him as a “beautiful and selfless soul” who had a “lingering positive impact on everyone.” He was memorialized in a June 2021 celebration of life.

San Diego Police officers found Jacoby deceased at the kitchen table in his San Diego apartment. Next to him was suspected drug paraphernalia. Officers examined his cellular phone and found text messages between Busse and Jacoby related to the sale. Those messages revealed that the victim told Busse he had been “clean” for some months and had no experience with fentanyl when Busse sold him the drug Jacoby, who clearly had some trepidation about fentanyl, asked Busse whether he should only “do an extremely small amount…I will be OK?” Busse responded by asking if Jacoby had Narcan “just in case.”

The messages between Busse and Jacoby demonstrate that Busse understood the fentanyl he was selling was particularly potent. Busse sent Jacoby a screen shot of another conversation between Busse and another customer during which the customer told Busse, “Damn that shit was strong” and “that shit was crazy” and it “took my vision away for like five minutes….”  Busse told Jacoby: “I’ve had people go out off [sic] smoking it….”

Through the investigation, law enforcement determined that Busse was advertising the fentanyl via the “Offer Up” app.  As the prosecutor pointed out at sentencing, Busse has a lengthy drug-related criminal history dating back to 2009.

Through his plea agreement, Busse admitted to selling the fatal dose and participating in a fentanyl distribution conspiracy involving 40 grams or more of fentanyl. Lathan and Santiago, who were themselves fentanyl customers of Busse, each admitted that they transported and delivered fentanyl they obtained from Busse to the victim in exchange for additional fentanyl or other limited compensation. 

“It is very clear that this defendant recognized the potential – if not inevitable – consequences of continuing to deal this deadly drug,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden. “Because of his callous actions, another life has met the tragic end that fentanyl brings, and a family has lost its father, fiancé, son and brother.  We will continue to prosecute these cases in the hope of sparing another family this tragic consequence.” 

“This case reminds us that drug dealing is not a victimless crime,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly Howe. “Another family is suffering an unnecessary loss and DEA, along with our partners, will continue to find justice for these victims.”

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate and prosecute the distribution of dangerous illegal drugs—fentanyl in particular—that result in overdose deaths. The Drug Enforcement Administration created the Overdose Response Team as a response to the increase in overdose deaths in San Diego County. Investigators from the DEA Overdose Response Team led the investigation into Jacoby’s death.

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