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M’burgh Dealer Sentenced After Fatal Fentanyl Overdose

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/23/24 | 2/23/24

Receives Federal Prison Time

By Andrea Macko/Porcupine Soup

ALBANY―A Middleburgh woman was sentenced to federal prison on Friday for selling fentanyl-laced drugs in Greene County on multiple occasions, one of which resulted in the death of an Acra man.

Teirra Pickering, 33, appeared at the James T. Foley U.S. Courthouse in Albany where United States District Judge Anne M. Nardacci sentenced her to three years in prison followed by three more years of supervised release for convictions on four counts of distributing controlled substances, including heroin-fentanyl mixtures.

One three occasions in February and March of 2021, Pickering sold cocaine and heroin that had been mixed with fentanyl to a confidential informant working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. Those sales took place in Cairo and Catskill, court documents state.

At the time, Pickering was living in an apartment unit on State Route 23 in Acra. On the afternoon of March 5, 2021, she made another sale to Tommy O’Brien, a man living in the same apartment complex. O’Brien, 45, died a few hours later from an overdose.

“On February 26, 2021, the first time that she sold fentanyl-laced heroin to those individuals, the defendant was recorded telling the purchasers to exercise caution in using the drugs because someone had ‘dropped’ the other day from them,” federal prosecutors stated in court documents.

“Dropped,” prosecutors believe, was in reference to a February 24, 2021 fatal overdose that occurred in the CVS parking lot in Cairo. Unlike with O’Brien’s death, prosecutors said they could not uncover enough evidence to charge Pickering in that case.

But even after O’Brien’s death, Pickering continued to sell the drugs, prosecutors noted. She was arrested on March 11, 2021 and pleaded guilty on September 20, 2023.

Under federal statute, Pickering could have received up to 20 years behind bars for each of the four criminal counts. Her attorney asked for no prison time, while prosecutors recommended 10 years and noted that Pickering has previous criminal convictions.

According to court documents, “Altogether, the defendant has accrued at least nine convictions in the less than eight years between May 2013 and March 2021.” Her criminal history includes four convictions for criminal possession of a controlled substance, two convictions for driving impaired, and convictions for petit larceny, driving without an ignition interlock, and disorderly conduct, prosecutors stated.

Prison time in Pickering’s case, prosecutors said, will service as a “general deterrent to those who seek to traffic in the deadly substances that the defendant was involved in.”

“It will also serve as a specific deterrent to the defendant, who was involved in repeated drug sales for which she was charged, has multiple unlawful drug possession convictions, admitted to engaging in sales in addition to those she was charged with, and who continued to distribute dangerous drugs even after becoming aware that people had “dropped’ from them.”

Pickering, who is currently pregnant, has been free on pre-trial release and will remain out of custody until after she has her baby. Under the sentencing terms, Pickering is to begin serving her prison time in September.

Members of O’Brien’s family were present in the courtroom on Friday and his mother, Jeanette Ricucci of Cairo, delivered a victim impact statement. Ricucci said she is happy with the sentence Nardacci handed down and is hopeful that it will bring the family some closure.

“She will spend three years in prison. I have to live without my son for the rest of my life,” Ricucci said. “But no sentence will ever bring Tommy back.”

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