Slater to Crack Down on Fentanyl Epidemic: Holding Dealers Accountable for Overdose Deaths

Americans and New Yorkers are drastically being affected by the opioid and fentanyl epidemic. At the core of this crisis is a shocking rise in opioid-related deaths as data has shown 16 New Yorkers die every day of an overdose; that’s one person every three hours.

“Fentanyl is playing a key role in the staggering number of deaths we see in our communities and there needs to be a law put in place that holds those pedaling the poison accountable,” said Assemblyman Slater.

Where the law currently stands in New York, it is nearly impossible for local prosecutors to hold dealers accountable for the deaths they are causing. At the federal-level, dealers can be charged for this crime, but oftentimes federal prosecutors opt out of going after lower-level dealers; this essentially cripples our local officials and justice system. However, Assemblyman Slater’s bill would allow local officials the same ability as federal level prosecutors to charge dealers for the death of an individual as a Class A felony. (A.7985).

“I am proud to actually sit down and work side by side with law enforcement to tackle this significant issue. Here in Putnam County, we have strung an entire team together between county and state government including Rep. Mike Lawler to ensure we are proposing the correct laws and solutions to save lives,” Slater adds.

As these statistics are staggering, New York State Assemblyman Matt Slater has been working alongside Putnam County DA, Robert Tendy, Putnam County ADA Breanne Smith and Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville, to propose significant legislation that will crack down on the use and dealership of fentanyl in the Hudson Valley region.

“In 2021 Fentanyl killed over 70,000 people in America and nothing is being done about it. It is a tragedy of unbelievable proportions and why I am in full support of Assemblyman Matt Slater's piece of legislation. We have children, parents, and grandparents dying from fentanyl every year and it has to stop,” said Putnam County DA, Robert Tendy.

Putnam County ADA Breanne Smith, who works on these cases adds, “We experience it every day in our office where family members reach out and ask what is being done to find their loved ones' killer but we currently have no legislation that allows us to hold these people responsible for causing those deaths. But Assemblyman Slater’s legislation will give us that opportunity and we’re confident that working with law enforcement we will be able to truly make a difference in the community.”

After working closely together, Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville expresses his gratitude for Assemblyman Slater’s efforts, “I want to thank Assemblyman Matt Slater for this proposed legislation as he is one of the first elected officials that has actually sat down with law enforcement and asked us what we need. This proposed legislation is one of those tools that we need to fight the war on drugs. Fentanyl is coming across the border left and right and the effects are devastating so we are proud to partner with Assemblyman Matt Slater on this.”

Slater has been a proud partner with incredible advocates and experts while crafting legislation and trying to come up with the right policy in order to save lives. Drug Crisis In Our Backyard has joined Slater on this mission to balance consequences and compassion towards this epidemic. Sue Salomone, founder of Drug Crisis In Our Backyard, tragically lost her son in 2012 to a heroin overdose thus igniting her and her husband's mission geared towards spreading awareness on addiction and teaming up with elected officials to help save lives.

“I lost my son Justin in 2012 to a heroin overdose and since then it has been my mission to raise awareness on the drug epidemic we are currently facing. Consequences are a key component in ensuring that people are held responsible for their actions and this piece of legislation will allow those selling or using to think twice and either seek treatment or stop selling,” said Sue Salomone.