MANHATTAN — A Buffalo man was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with selling the synthetic drug “Molly” to one of the two people who died of an overdose during last year’s Electric Zoo Festival, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office announced.
Patrick Morgan, 23, allegedly sold about 80 Molly pills, which contained the drug MDMA, to Jeffrey Russ and two other people at the Randall's Island concert on Aug. 30, 2013. The three buyers took some of the pills at the festival and Russ collapsed toward the end of the concert, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney said.
He was treated at the festival before being taken to Harlem Hospital where he died several hours later from an overdose and a 108-degree temperature.
“As alleged, Patrick Morgan sold drugs that, far from enabling a good time, resulted in tragedy with the death of Jeffrey Russ,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
“It bears repeating that every time people use drugs like 'Molly' they are rolling the dice with their own lives, which is a foolish and senseless wager.”
Federal investigators drafted one of the alleged drug dealer's friends to text him about the death in attempt to extract an admission that Morgan sold the drug that killed Russ.
"Hey it was great to see you last week. Glad we got to talk about Jeff a little it was bugging me," the federal cooperator texted.
"Just know that I no longer blame us for giving the molly to him because it was him that made the mistake of taking too much."
Morgan texted back, "Yeah man u too call me whenever u want."
It was unclear who was representing Morgan in the case.
Olivia Rotondo, 21, an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire, also died during the 2013 festival after taking Ecstasy and overheating.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office said they could not comment on whether Morgan or anyone else was being investigated in Rotondo’s death.
The city shut down last year’s festival early after the deaths, but it will return to Randall's Island this Labor Day weekend under an agreement worked out with the city requiring festival organizers to submit a drug and alcohol risk-reduction plan.
The plan includes making public service announcements via social media, stage performers and videos about the possible consequences of using alcohol and drugs expected to be sold at the festival.
The Park’s Department staff was also given 450 complimentary festival tickets, worth $72,550, as part of the agreement.
“The city conducted an extensive interagency review … to update Electric Zoo’s health and safety measures with multiple new requirements and to ensure this event has the security and medical services in place to keep attendees safe throughout the event,” Parks Department spokesman Philip Abramson said in a June statement.
Morgan was charged with one count each of conspiring to distribute narcotics and distributing narcotics, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
He was expected to be arraigned in the Western District Court in Manhattan Wednesday.