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Man indicted for alleged deadly fentanyl sale

NASHUA – One of two indictments which members of a Hillsborough County Superior Court-South grand jury handed up against Milford resident Richard Cooley III accuses him of selling the dose of fentanyl that prosecutors say caused the overdose death of a Hudson woman last year.

In a motion asking the court to hold him in jail without bail pending trial, prosecutors said Cooley, 33, of 599 Mason Road, texted the alleged victim a short time after the alleged sale “cautioning her to be careful because the drugs were ‘better’ than before.”

The woman, who was 27 when she died on May 11, allegedly bought the fentanyl from Cooley the previous evening when the two met outside a Milford restaurant, according to the motion.

The woman’s fiancee later found her unconscious in her bed, and he was unable to revive her, the motion states. Police were notified, and launched an investigation into the cause of her death.

The so-called “death resulting” charge on which Cooley was indicted is an unclassified felony that is punishable by up to life in prison.

It accuses Cooley of “knowingly dispensing the controlled drug fentanyl” to the woman, “which resulted in her death after (she) ingested the fentanyl.”

It also states that the woman’s death “was not too remote in its occurrence to have a just bearing on Mr. Cooley’s liability for the death, nor was it too dependent upon the conduct of any other person,” wording that is intended to support prosecutors’ contention that Cooley is the only person who, given the evidence and timeline, could have sold the woman the fentanyl that allegedly caused her death.

A second indictment handed up against Cooley – on the charge of dispensing a controlled drug – accuses him of selling fentanyl after having been convicted of possession of drugs with intent to distribute, in September 2013.

According to prosecutors’ motion, police as part of their investigation extracted text messages from Cooley’s and the woman’s cellphones, which, prosecutors state, “clearly indicate that on May 10, the night before her death, (the woman) was communicating with another person in an effort to obtain narcotics … the ‘other person’ was quickly identified” as Cooley, the motion states.

Having acquired the phones’ text messages, prosecutors said police were able to obtain “contemporaneous video surveillance” from security cameras at the restaurant where the alleged transaction took place, according to prosecutors.

The next morning, unaware that the woman had died, Cooley allegedly “reached out to (the woman) again to see if she needed more narcotics.

“When he received no response,” the motion states, “he asked about her well-being.”

According to the woman’s autopsy report, the cause of her death was ruled “acute intoxication by fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl,” the motion states.

Cooley is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. Feb. 24 for arraignment on the charges.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256, or at dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.

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