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Heroin dealer pleads guilty in overdose death of senior

A defendant accused of helping someone obtain heroin multiple times over several months — an arrangement that ended when that Medford resident died from an overdose — has reached a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Pedro Sanchez, 25, opted to plead guilty to distribution of heroin. Penalties for this offense include a maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment, a $1 million fine and three years of supervised release.

The plea agreement, filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in Medford, states that Sanchez admitted to providing Robert Minnick with heroin five times, the final occurrence being in July of 2018, the day before he died.

Court documents list the year of Minnick’s birth being in 1952, which would have made him about 66 years old.

On July 22, 2018, authorities responded to a 911 call for assistance. They found Minnick in the bedroom of his home in the 1100 block of Spring Street “not moving and cold to the touch.”

Law enforcement searched the bedroom and found a bottle containing what turned out to be 1.77 grams of heroin and located a bent hypodermic needle next to Minnick’s body. The medical examiner subsequently determined that he died of a heroin overdose.

The plea agreement explains that Sanchez admitted to providing heroin to Minnick approximately once a month.

The routine they had established was that Minnick would pay him $240 for two grams of heroin. Sanchez paid the dealer $200 for the drug and kept the remaining $40 as a finder’s fee.

A court document from May of 2019 describes their final business July 21, 2018, which began when Minnick called Sanchez, who asked that Minnick pick him up at a local market. They then drove to a sports bar in Medford, where Sanchez talked to a woman, who then met with Minnick outside in his car.

While Minnick and the woman conducted the drug transaction, Sanchez used the extra $40 Minnick paid him to gamble inside the bar. They separated after Sanchez used Minnick’s mobile phone to call his mother so she could pick him up.

Other aspects of the plea agreement include Sanchez fully admitting and accepting responsibility for his conduct in this case in exchange for a low-end sentencing recommendation. He will also not be contesting any financial forfeiture of assets he used to carry out the offense.

Sanchez retains the right to oppose additions to overall penalty solely based on the fact that Minnick died.

Earlier charges against Sanchez of aiding and abetting as well as conspiracy to deliver heroin were dropped as part of the agreement.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2022, in the District Court in Medford.