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Press Release - Plea by Jamey Williams

District Attorney

     On August 20, 2021 Jamey Williams (DOB 01/30/1981) of Schenectady, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court to one count of Criminally Negligent Homicide in violation of Penal Law section 125.10, a class E nonviolent felony, and to one count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree in violation of Penal Law section 220.16(12), a class B drug felony. The plea resolves a thirteen-count indictment against Mr. Williams and he will receive sentences that result in ten years of incarceration followed by a term of post release supervision that will be determined by the court at sentencing scheduled for October 20, 2021. He is to receive the maximum sentence allowed by law with regard to the conviction for Criminally Negligent Homicide, an indeterminate sentence of two-to-four years of incarceration. He will receive ten years of incarceration with regard to the count for drug possession, which also carries a term of post release supervision. These sentences are to run concurrently. The ten-year sentence on the drug conviction is only possible because Mr. Williams has two prior felony convictions, one for weapons possession in 2006 and one arising from drug sales in 2015.
     The count for Criminally Negligent Homicide stems from an incident that took place on December 26, 2019 at 1102 Congress Street where the defendant sold what he purported to be cocaine to the victim, Justin Lowery. However, drug tests from the New York State Crime Lab later revealed that the substance was not, in fact, cocaine, but instead contained fentanyl and heroin.
     On December 26, 2019, Mr. Lowery was visiting with friends at 1102 Congress Street and was looking to buy some cocaine. When the friends did not have any, they suggested contacting Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams arrived with what was described as a brick of cocaine and offered to sell some to Mr. Lowery before he “cooked” the rest into crack-cocaine. Witnesses described the substance as appearing inconsistent with what they would typically associate with powder cocaine. Mr. Williams sold Mr. Lowery a portion of the substance and Mr. Lowery inhaled the substance in a matter consistent with the use of powder cocaine. Almost immediately Mr. Lowery was seen exhibiting signs of a drug overdose. A 911 call was placed at 11:47 pm from one of Lowery's companions and he was pronounced dead at 12:15 am on December 27, 2019. The death certificate described his cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia due to fentanyl and cocaine intoxication.
     Schenectady County District Attorney Robert M. Carney stated as follows: “Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford dedicated police resources to investigate drug overdose fatalities to determine whether any of them could result in prosecutable criminal cases. Then SPD Special Investigations Unit Investigator Kevin Derkowski was assigned this task and did remarkable work. This case was a cold case but he was able to track down the witnesses who were largely cooperative. Knowing only a phony first name for the dealer and a cell phone number, Derkowski was eventually able to identify him, secure a photo array identification from one witness, and corroborate his presence at the scene of Mr. Lowery’s death utilizing a search warrant based on cell phone technology.”
“I assigned ADA Nick McDonald to work with Inv. Derkowski, later joined by Inv. Anthony Savignano, and they were able to obtain this 13 count indictment against Mr. Williams. Under New York State law, there is no homicide charge that can result from the mere sale of a drug which results in death, without further proof of a culpable mental state. In this case, the proof showed that this dealer affirmatively represented the drugs he sold to Mr. Lowery to be the cocaine that Lowery wanted, when in fact Mr. Williams did not know its exact composition including fentanyl. Had Williams been aware he was peddling fentanyl as cocaine, a higher charge of manslaughter based on reckless conduct would have been appropriate. The tragic death of Mr. Lowery shows the dangers that drug users are exposed to in trusting that dealers in the unregulated drug marketplace will not poison them with lethal substances such as fentanyl.  I particularly want to thank Inv. Derkowski, Inv. Savignano, and ADA McDonald for their hard work, resourcefulness, and professionalism in bringing Mr. Williams to justice for causing the death of Mr. Lowery. We will continue to pursue such investigations, now with the additional assistance of the Sheriff’s Street Crimes Task Force which is collecting data about all county overdose cases consistent with HIPPA privacy rules that somewhat limit the information available to law enforcement.”
     Schenectady City Police Chief Eric Clifford stated as follows: “I would like to thank District Attorney Robert Carney and his office for prosecuting this case. Their support and guidance helped investigators pursue justice on behalf of Justin Lowery and his family. It also allows us to send the message to all dealers of illegal drugs that they will be held accountable if the poison they sell harms a member of our community. I am proud of the dedicated work done by Investigators Derkowski and Savignano as well as Prosecutor McDonald.”
     The People were represented by Assistant District Attorney Nicolaus B. McDonald. The defendant was represented by Christopher Savino. The case was presided over by the Honorable Mark Caruso.  For further information contact Assistant District Attorney Nicolaus B. McDonald at 518-388-4721.