Heroin dealer. Prosecutor Tim McGinty, Michael Karkoska

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CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland man who sold a fatal dose of heroin on the city's West Side last October has entered plea of guilty to involuntary manslaughter and been sentenced to four years in prison, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said today.

Prosecutors said Michael Karkoska, 24, sold the heroin that killed 19-year-old Lanny David Gullion III.

Gullion was found dead the morning of Oct. 10 about one block from the Circle K convenience store at West 140th Street and Triskett Road where the sale took place.

Prosecutors were prepared to present evidence including videotapes and text messages that tied Karkoska to the deadly transaction.

Karkoska entered a plea of guilty to the entire indictment: one count each of Involuntary Manslaughter, Corrupting Another with Drugs, Trafficking, Drug Possession and Possessing Criminal Tools.

Immediately after taking Karkoska's plea, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Nancy Margaret Russo imposed sentence.

"For the first time in memory, a drug dealer in Cuyahoga County has been held responsible for the death of his customer – and it will not be the last," said Assistant County Prosecutor Mahmoud Awadallah, who prosecuted this case for the State of Ohio.

"Today, Michael Karkoska learned that you are responsible for your actions."

  • On Jan. 30, three other defendants involved with the fatal sale also entered guilty pleas and were sentenced by Judge Russo: Mark Farrar, 22, of Cleveland, entered a plea of guilty to one count each of Reckless Homicide and Trafficking, and was sentenced by Judge Russo to nine months in prison. Evidence showed that Farrar put the victim in contact with Karkoska in order to buy heroin.
  • Kei Niedra, 23, of North Ridgeville, entered a plea of guilty to one count each of Reckless Homicide, Trafficking and Possession of Criminal Tools, and was sentenced to nine months in prison. Evidence showed that Niedra drove Karkoska to the Circle K and that the sale was made inside Niedra's car.
  • Michele C. Pfaff, 20, of Cleveland, entered a plea of guilty to one count each of Reckless Homicide, Trafficking and Possession of Criminal Tools, and was sentenced to one year in prison. Evidence showed that Pfaff assisted Karkoska with the logistics of his drug-dealing enterprise.

All three were to have been prosecution witnesses against Karkoska.

Gullion was one of nearly 200 people who died of heroin overdoses in Cuyahoga County last year. Prosecutor McGinty last week reaffirmed his determination to seek homicide charges against dealers in overdose deaths whenever possible.

"The rules of engagement have changed," he said.

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