A Pulaski County man was sentenced this week to 20 years in prison for distributing heroin that resulted in a man’s death.
Anthony LaCortiglia, 30, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in London.
LaCortiglia in August 2013 pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin and to distributing heroin that resulted in the death of another person.
That guilty plea came after the first day of LaCortiglia’s trial.
The case began in May 2012 after LaCortiglia gave heroin to John Latham at Latham’s Pulaski County residence. A short time later, Latham died as result of injecting the heroin.
LaCortiglia also admitted to conspiring with others to distribute heroin within Pulaski County.
LaCortiglia’s attorney, Robert Norfleet, said a conviction would have led to a sentence of anywhere from 30 years to life in prison.
“The law as currently written is brutal and is contributing to the problem of too many non-violent offenders overcrowding our prison system due to politically motivated ‘tough on crime’ harsh sentencing statutes,” said Norfleet in an email to the Commonwealth Journal. “Had Mr. LaCortiglia been convicted at trial, his sentencing guidelines were 360 months to life.”
Norfleet said that sentence probably would have been much higher due to additional charges such as obstructing justice.
LaCortiglia will be on probation for 20 years after he completes his 20-year prison term. Under federal law, LaCortiglia must complete 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for release.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason Parman.
LaCortiglia’s case is evidence of a nation-wide trend by prosecutors to hit the growing heroin problem hard by handing dealers what was once a little-used charge — distributing a drug that results in a death — that requires a mandatory 20-year sentence upon conviction.
Federal prosecutors in Kentucky are also working to combat the rising use of heroin, which is a cheaper alternative now to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin. OxyContin and other prescription painkillers are harder to obtain, distribute, and use after recent law changes.