A 29-year-old woman who admitted to procuring fentanyl in San Francisco for sale in Santa Rosa, and whose supply ultimately killed a 29-year-old man and his son two years ago, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Wednesday to 77 months in jail.
Santa Rosa resident Leanna Zamora was one of three defendants in the case that made headlines in the Bay Area in the fall of 2019, in which 29-year-old Patrick O’Neill and his 13-month-old son Liam were found dead of accidental fentanyl overdoses. In December 2019, Zamora and co-defendants Lindsay Williams, 32, and Shane Cratty, 26, were all charged in the case. Federal prosecutors said that agents determined in their investigation that Zamora had bought fentanyl from Honduran nationals in San Francisco's Tenderloin, and subsequently resold it to Williams, who gave it to Cratty, who sold it to O'Neill in September 2019.
O'Neill and the infant were found unresponsive on September 14 by the child's mother, after she had last communicated with O'Neill the night before. O'Neill was revived with a dose of Narcan, but later died of cardiac arrest. It is not clear how the child ingested any of the drug, but fentanyl was found on some tinfoil near where O'Neill and the baby was found, along with traces of methamphetamine.
As the Press Democrat reported at the time, Cratty was a friend of O'Neill's who helped procure the fentanyl on September 13 — referred to in text messages as "fetty." Cratty said in an interview after his arrest that he believed his friend had been clean for several months before doing the drug that night — and he added, "People should really not use fentanyl at all. It’s very dangerous depending on how potent, how pure it is. One little speck like a grain of sand can kill you. It should somehow just be taken off the streets completely."
Federal prosecutors have used the case to make an example of the dangers of allowing the "open-air drug market" to continue to thrive in the Tenderloin — and a U.S. Attorney also used the case to make a point about San Francisco's sanctuary policy for undocumented immigrants.
"When we tolerate this open-air drug market in the heart of our city, the harms that it creates are not contained to the neighborhood where this drug market exists,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson in a statement at the time. “Open-air drug markets attract evil and export misery, despair and, as this case demonstrates, sometimes even death."
Anderson also wrote a letter to SF Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes the Tenderloin, to urge his support in undoing the sanctuary police. As the Chronicle reported, Anderson wrote, "I would simply urge you, as an important local policymaker, to assess the real-life implications of the restrictions imposed on local law enforcement and other local policy choices." Haney responded that the policy had nothing to do with federal law enforcement's ability to enforce federal laws in the Tenderloin.
Williams and Cratty each previously received slightly longer sentences of 90 and 96 months, respectively.
Zamora pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, and one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury and death.
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