Federal indictment made in fentanyl overdose death case


Staff reports


A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte returned a criminal bill of indictment on February 20, 2020, charging Shannon White, 42, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and resident of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, with distributing fentanyl that resulted in an overdose death, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. White appeared in federal court this morning, following her arrest by the DEA and the Swain County Sheriff’s Office.

Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Asheville District Office, and the counties encompassing the Cherokee Indian Reservation, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

The criminal bill of indictment alleges that on January 28, 2019, White did knowingly distribute a mixture or substance containing fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance, which resulted in the death of a victim identified in the indictment as J.F.

White had her initial appearance Monday in Asheville before U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Carleton Metcalf. The offense charged carries a mandatory minimum term of twenty years imprisonment, a maximum term of life imprisonment, and a $1 million fine.

The charge contained in the indictment is an allegation.  The defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making the announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the DEA and the Swain

County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas

Kent, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, is handling the prosecution.

Last month, U.S. Attorney Murray was joined by the U.S. Attorneys for the Middle and Eastern Districts of North Carolina and the District of South Carolina, in calling on Congress to issue a permanent ban on fentanyl and its analogues.  Congress passed a 15-month extension on DEA’s existing ban on all variants of fentanyl, which President Trump signed into law on February 6, 2020.  The current extension expires on May 6, 2021.