YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An Austintown man has been charged in relation to the death of a man who investigators say overdosed on fentanyl in April.
A Mahoning County grand jury indicted 36-year-old Kyle Christy on charges of involuntary manslaughter, corrupting another with drugs and trafficking in cocaine.
Christy was arrested by U.S. Marshals, and he is currently in the Mahoning County Jail.
According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Christy is accused of giving drugs to 55-year-old Randie Steehler, of Youngstown. Investigators said Steehler overdosed on fentanyl at a bar on Mahoning Avenue on April 15.
The case was investigated by the Mahoning County Heroin Overdose Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
“Every overdose is a tragedy, and the people who put deadly drugs in the hands of those suffering from addiction should be held responsible for doing so,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Those who choose to traffic drugs in Mahoning County should be on notice that this task force will aggressively pursue you should the drugs you provide cause an overdose death.”
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said the collaboration allows investigators to find those responsible for causing drug overdoses.
“I consider this in every way manslaughter,” he said.
In addition to the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, the Mahoning County Heroin Overdose Task Force also includes representatives from the Austintown Police Department, Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, Mercy Health Police Department, New Middletown Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Kristy isn’t the only suspect they have tracked down with the new task force. Kelsey Armeni of Lowellville is also facing involuntary manslaughter charges.
“Both of them supplied another with the narcotics that contained fentanyl,” said Maj. Jeff Allen, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.
The task force worked with Lowellville and Youngstown Police on the investigations. Since their unit was established, members have taken on 37 cases – three of those coming in the last week-and-a-half. The task is funded with a grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“With the amount of overdoses, there are a lot of cases to work,” Allen said.
While the focus of the task force was on heroin, fentanyl has become a bigger problem.
“About 98 percent of the overdose cases that we investigate almost always come back as fentanyl,” Allen said.
Allen said at least two of their cases involved carfentanil, which is said to be 10,000 times stronger than heroin.
Carfentanil killed a man found in January on the city’s east side – the needle still in the victim’s hand.
Christy and Armeni are expected in court next week