A former Washington County man pleaded guilty to a federal felony Tuesday for opioid overdose death of a Gansevoort man nearly three years ago, a plea that will result in a 20-year prison term.
Steven M. Boice Jr., 30, pleaded guilty to a felony charge for distributing furanyl fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is far more powerful than heroin, with a death resulting in Saratoga County on Feb. 3, 2017.
Boice, who was arrested in Saratoga Springs and previously lived in Greenwich and Schuylerville, also faced charges that accuse him of possessing a shotgun and .223-caliber Panther Arms semiautomatic rifle in furtherance of a drug crime as well as possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute.
The possession charge stemmed from the seizure of 363 packets of furanyl fentanyl during a police raid at Boice’s Cherry Street, Saratoga Springs, home on Feb. 10, 2017. That raid took place a week after the overdose death of 30-year-old Bryan LaFreniere at his parents’ home in Galway.
Boice admitted selling 50 packets of furanyl fentanyl to LaFreniere the day he died.
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Shane Crooks said Boice had moved to Saratoga Springs about a month before the overdose death.
“Boice was a scourge on our community, and by stopping him we prevented further tragedy,” Crooks said in a news release.
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“Steven Boice showed total disregard for the lives of others. In selling furanyl fentanyl, a new, synthetic opioid that is many times more powerful than heroin and even fentanyl, he risked the lives of many, and caused the death of a young man whose family grieves every day,” U.S. Attorney Grant Jaquith said in a news release. “Boice also sold drugs while armed with a loaded rifle and loaded shotgun, demonstrating that he was prepared to use deadly force to safeguard his drug sales.”
Boice’s lawyer, Lawrence Elmen, said addiction was behind his client’s crimes, and Boice sought to accept responsibility through his plea.
“He was highly addicted to this stuff, and using a tremendous amount. In order to keep using, he had to sell,” Elmen said. “Steven Boice knows if he wasn’t arrested, he would be dead today. He probably would have overdosed.”
Two other Saratoga County opiod dealers that Boice was affiliated with died while the federal investigation was ongoing.
This case was investigated by the DEA and its Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force, which includes members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department, Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office is also assisting in the investigation.
Local police and prosecutors have been working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for more than two years to seek prosecution of opioid dealers in connection with overdose deaths. Several other local overdose deaths are under investigation for possible charges.
Boice is to be sentenced March 20 by Senior U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe. He is being held in an unspecified jail pending sentencing.