Woman Charged with Murder after Selling Carfentanil to Victim in Rehab Who Died Next Day
GERMANTOWN, Md. (ABC7) —
For the first time in recent history, prosecutors in Montgomery County have filed a murder charge against a drug dealer accused of causing a fatal overdose.
Last week, a grand jury formally indicted Amy Bormel, 29, of Germantown, on three counts, including second-degree murder, distribution of heroin and conspiracy to distribute heroin.
On July 11, 2017, medics were dispatched to a working code. The Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore ultimately determined the victim, Jennifer Johnson, died from "combined drug intoxication."
The toxicology report listed carfentanil, alprazolam and free morphine in Johnson's system. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and is often used to immobilize large animals like elephants.
A confidential source quickly told investigators Johnson received the lethal batch of drugs on July 10, from Bormel, a friend she had met in a drug rehabilitation program.
On July 12, members of the Montgomery County Police Department's Special Investigations Division set up an undercover sting outside Bormel's apartment along Kildare Hills Terrace in Germantown.
Plain-clothes officers followed Bormel and her boyfriend as they drove their Mercedes-Benz to Baltimore. Police then arranged a drug transaction between Bormel and their confidential source, providing them with enough probable cause to perform a traffic stop and obtain a search warrant.
In a criminal charging document obtained by ABC7 News, investigators said they found illegal drugs and paraphernalia in Bormel's vehicle and apartment, plus hidden within her genitals. That list of confiscated items includes:
Syringe, multiple syringe caps scattered throughout vehicle
Metal spoon with burnt residue in vehicle
Eight bottles of Methadone in bedroom dresser drawer
Four prescription bottles containing unknown pills in bathroom closet
Baggie with 2.5 grams of "grey powdery substance" in Bormel's genitals
Packs of suboxone strips (often used to reduce withdrawal symptoms) in desk drawer
Plastic baggies with "spade stamp" under loveseat cushion
Three digital scales, some with residue in both vehicle and apartment
$210 in U.S. currency
Maryland District Court mail
According to police, Bormel admitted to purchasing heroin in Baltimore and returning to Montgomery County to sell it. Authorities filed a number of drug distribution charges against her in the immediate days thereafter, but held off on the second-degree murder count until late March, more than eight months later.
“Being a merchant of death and dealing these fatal doses of drugs is certainly a scourge on our community," said Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office.
Bormel is now the second drug dealer in Montgomery County charged in connection with a user's death.
Last year, prosecutors indicted Stephen Woods, 34, of Frederick County, Maryland, on two counts of drug distribution and a third count of involuntary manslaughter. Woods has since pleaded guilty to that manslaughter charge and is scheduled for sentencing in May.
Officials said their newfound muscle flexing proves they are "serious about the heroin problem."
According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 1,856 people statewide died from opioids in 2016. That is a 255 percent increase from 2008 when the state recorded 523 opioid deaths.
The highly addictive drugs do not discriminate against certain zip codes, but rather ravage communities from Bethesda to Baltimore. Police, paramedics, hospitals, court systems, jails, schools and substance abuse centers are overrun with the added workload, while families are coming apart at the seams.
“Those who deal these poisonous substances, and knowingly cause folks to fall by the wayside and die, will be charged," Korionoff said.
Speaking by telephone Wednesday, Defense Attorney Mitchell Greenberg explained he strongly disagrees with the second-degree murder charge lobbed against his client.
“I think they are puffing out their chests and trying to poison the jury pool," Greenberg said of prosecutors' hard-line stance on the case.
Greenberg described Bormel as a "nice girl from a nice, successful family" in Baltimore County. "This has just been killing her family," he added.
Following her initial arrest in July on the drug distribution charges, Bormel was allowed to post bond, but ordered to attend drug therapy and submit to monthly drug tests. Greenberg said his client accomplished those tasks in exemplary fashion. She also obtained a job as a manager at a restaurant at the RIO Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg, purchased a car and continued to pay rent.
Bormel was expecting to be sentenced in mid-April on a single distribution count, but last week's murder indictment changed everything. The 29-year-old is now back in custody, this time on a no-bond status, facing well over 50 years in prison.
“Amy’s a remarkable person," Bormel's friend, who drove her to jail told ABC7. “She’s worked extremely hard to change her life, and she has. She works a full-time job, she has a fantastic family and she’s been one of the best friends I’ve ever had.”
Law enforcement sources said Bormel's boyfriend is currently under investigation for his alleged role in this murder case, with similar unprecedented charges expected in the coming days.