Muskingum County Prosecutor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 9, 2023
Drug dealer gets max sentence following overdose of high school student
A Nashport drug dealer charged in the 2021 death of a local high school student received a maximum sentence of eight years in prison Monday.
Mason Buck, 22, previously pleaded guilty to a prosecutor’s bill of information containing one second-degree felony count of corrupting another with drugs.
Detectives from the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office determined Buck sold a fatal dose of fentanyl to the teenage victim in the spring of 2021.
The 18-year-old high school senior was discovered unresponsive in her bed on May 2 after the family dog alerted her parents to her condition.
Her father “began performing CPR on his youngest daughter as they desperately awaited first responders to arrive,” Assistant Prosecutor John Litle said in court.
She was pronounced dead at Genesis Hospital within an hour. Her family has never been the same after losing the youngest child, Assistant Prosecutor Litle described in court.
The fiance of one of the victim’s brother’s wrote in a letter to the Court describing the heartache that overcame the family as they all gathered home to mourn.
“His parents had to call each of their children and tell them. Then they had to sit at the house and wait for each to trickle in and tell them all over again … I hope to never see the pain that was on the faces of his parents again. … When we got there, our presence was the only small comfort that we could bring. The house was less empty, but it felt the emptiest it has ever been.”
Throughout the investigation, detectives learned from friends of the victim that the teen suffered from a drug addiction, which escalated from marijuana to Xanax and Percocet. Her condition was fueled by Buck who regularly sold her the narcotics.
Friends confirmed that Buck delivered drugs to the driveway of the victim’s own home. “In the safest place there is for a child to be,” Assistant Prosecutor Litle said in court.
Her addiction became noticeably dangerous to the victim’s friends, prompting them to beg Buck to stop dealing to her because the drugs were killing her.
He responded to their concerned pleas by saying “It’s not my fault. I’m just the drug dealer. Why are you blaming me? I have nothing to do with this.”
Three weeks shy of her high school graduation and one month after her 18th birthday, the victim’s promising life was taken when Buck’s pills killed her.
The teen ultimately overdosed on what she believed to be a Percocet 30, but as is common with street-obtained prescriptions, it was actually a pressed fentanyl pill.
Buck sold the pills to the victim and even drove her to an ATM to get money out of her account for the transaction.
“Not only is he responsible for the death of [our daughter], but for the life sentence of grief that [my wife], my kids, and I will endure forever. We will forever live with the pain of what we could have done differently to prevent [her] from trying drugs. The pain of not being able to say we love you and goodbye on that catastrophic night. The pain of doing CPR on your own daughter and seeing the horror on my wife’s face as she calls 911. The list goes on, and so far, time does not heal,” the victim’s father wrote to the Court.
At sentencing, Judge Mark Fleegle expressed how he wishes to never see another drug overdose case again.
“It’s got to end sometime,” Judge Fleegle said.
He added that he never wants to hear that drug dealing is a non-violent crime when so often it results in death.
“I can’t say or do anything to make it better for anybody in this room,” Fleegle said, addressing both the victim’s and the defendant’s families. “This is something that did not need to happen.”
Holding Buck accountable for his actions, Fleegle sentenced him to eight years in prison with a possible indefinite sentence of 12 years.
“In every fatal overdose, our office works with law enforcement in an attempt to provide justice for the victim,” Muskingum County Prosecutor Ron Welch said. “Unfortunately, we are not always able to obtain enough evidence to prosecute every case. In cases where we are able to prosecute, we will continue to fight aggressively to pursue the toughest sentence possible.”
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