Westmoreland man allegedly sold heroin that killed 2 men, jailed on $1 million bond
Michele Rubin was buying a black-and-gold floral arrangement to place on her son's grave in Delmont on Thursday when she got a call: Murrysville police had charged a man with selling the dose of fentanyl-laced heroin that killed 21-year-old Paul Lucas.
“Paul was such an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I thought I'd decorate his grave today with the start of a new season,” said Rubin, of Murrysville. “This arrest definitely does give us a feeling of the beginning of some sort of closure.”
The alleged drug dealer, Jeremy S. Mason, 32, of Manor, was arraigned Wednesday in night court on two complaints of drug delivery resulting in death — for Lucas' death on April 13 and another overdose in June that killed a 30-year-old Greensburg man.
After arraigning Mason on complaints filed by Murrysville and Greensburg police, District Judge Denise Thiel of Ligonier ordered him held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $1 million bond.
Under state law, Mason could receive a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison for each death, if convicted.
“Paul was just a great kid and always put others before himself. ... Murrysville police worked so hard on this case for the last five months ... always taking my calls, keeping me informed along the way, even when there was nothing to report,” Rubin said.
“I'm just so glad they were able to make an arrest and glad to see the person who sold it is being held accountable,” she said. “I just wish they could keep going up the ladder and arrest the guy who sold it to (Mason), too.”
Murrysville Officer Thomas Kusinsky alleges that on April 13 authorities were called to a home on Breyer Ridge Court where Lucas was found unresponsive in his bedroom. The coroner's office pronounced Lucas dead at the scene, Kusinsky said in an affidavit of probable cause.
Mason also is charged with supplying the heroin that killed Jeffrey Gettemy Jr. on June 1, according to city Detective Sgt. John Swank.
In the Murrysville case, Kusinsky said stamp bags Mason sold were found at the scene.
“Located on the desk near the deceased were six stamp baggies stamped “COBRA” in red ink with a cobra symbol,” Kusinsky said.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht ruled the cause of death as “acute combined drug toxicity” from a combination of fentanyl and morphine, according to the affidavit. The state police crime laboratory determined the stamp bags recovered at the scene contained heroin and fentanyl, Kusinsky reported in court documents.
Kusinsky said he was able to determine that Mason sold Lucas the heroin. In an interview, Mason told Kusinsky that Lucas was with him when he purchased 11 bags of heroin on April 13 and he later dropped off Lucas at his home with six of the bags.
“Mason ... messaged Paul Lucas (later) because he was concerned with Paul Lucas injecting the heroin because another individual that was with them had snorted a bag of the heroin and had almost passed out,” Kusinsky wrote.
Gettemy's family gave investigators his cellphone after he was found dead in a bathroom at a Lemington Avenue home, according to an affidavit. Investigators were able to identify Mason as his potential supplier through relatives, according to court documents.
“An empty bag of suspected heroin stamped ‘Sorry 4 Da Wait' in purple ink was found on a nearby small stand near (Gettemy's) right hand,” Swank wrote in the affidavit.
Swank said tests on heroin Gettemy used showed that it was cut with fentanyl.
City police Lt. Rob Jones extracted from Gettemy's cellphone multiple calls between him and Mason just before his death, according to the affidavit.
Swank reported that a few weeks after Gettemy's death he interviewed Mason, who was being held on arrest warrants out of Allegheny County. When he informed him of Gettemy's death, “Mason began crying.”
Swank wrote that Mason admitted he sold two stamp bags of heroin to Gettemy on June 1 — with a warning to a woman who was with the victim.
“Mason said Gettemy was drunk and told them not to give Gettemy any heroin (in that condition),” Swank wrote in the affidavit.
In the months since her son's death, Rubin said she has been “shocked by the number of people” who have been impacted by the heroin overdose epidemic and have come forward to offer help.
“Unfortunately, there's still a stigma associated with it. People don't want to talk about it, but it's such a problem throughout society that it really does need to be discussed,” she said.