New York Drug Dealer Charged In Molly Death at Electric Zoo

By John Lavitt 08/18/14

Patrick Morgan is being charged with selling the molly that led to the death of 23-year-old Jeffrey Russ in 2013.

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Patrick Morgan, a New York drug dealer based in Buffalo, is being accused of selling the popular ecstasy-like synthetic drug called “Molly” that led to an overdose death at the 2013 Electric Zoo festival.

Arrested in early August in connection to the death of 23-year-old Jeffrey Russ that closed down last year’s festival, Morgan has been charged with one count of conspiring to distribute narcotics and one count of distributing narcotics. Each of the two felony charges carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors allege that Russ and his two friends purchased 80 hits of Molly from Morgan with the intention of consuming and selling them at Electric Zoo. Late Friday night while at the festival, Russ took some of the pills, after which he collapsed and had a seizure. He was treated by emergency medical technicians on Randall’s Island to no avail. He was ultimately transported to Harlem Hospital, where he died a few hours later from acute intoxication by the combined effect of MDMA and methylone with hyperthermia.

“As alleged, Patrick Morgan sold drugs that, far from enabling a good time, resulted in tragedy with the death of Jeffrey Russ," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "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.”

Molly, or powdered MDMA, is marketed by drug dealers like Morgan as a purer version of Ecstasy that provides a better high. Big in the club scene and celebrated in popular culture by singers like Miley Cyrus, Molly has been on a popular upswing. The problem is that nobody knows what low-level drug dealers cut the drug with to increase their profits. Capsules being sold as Molly often are laced with a variety of dangerous and strange agents, including aspirin, caffeine, bath salts, methamphetamine, and even rat poison.

Olivia Rotando, 20, also died after taking Molly at the festival, and several other attendees were hospitalized for similar issues, but were later released.

DEA Acting Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt illustrated the dangers involved, “Synthetic drugs such as 'Molly' are extremely dangerous and have grown increasingly more popular at events such as music festivals…Those who ingest it, even if for the very first time, are putting themselves at risk because they have no idea what they are putting into their bodies. DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate any and all drug trafficking organizations that place lives at risk by selling these dangerous substances.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.