Pottstown Man Charged In Drug-Related Death

SANATOGA PA – A 26-year-old Pottstown man is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and four other offenses in the January 2019 death of a local woman to whom, Lower Pottsgrove police allege, he sold the drugs on which she overdosed.

Blaise William Rusek Jr. (at top) has been held at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility since his arrest and preliminary arraignment about two weeks ago in the opioid-related death of Nadia Lopez on Pinehurst Drive in the township, according to the police department’s CrimeWatch website announcement of the case Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 10, 2019).

Police said they responded Jan. 21 at 6:30 a.m. to a Pinehurst Drive single-family home and arrived to find Lopez, 25, “unresponsive from an apparent opioid overdose.” Opioids are a class of drugs often used to relieve or reduce pain, which also can be addictive, Johns Hopkins Medicine explains. Police and ambulance personnel made efforts to revive Lopez. She was later transported to Pottstown Hospital for treatment, but was declared dead on Jan. 23.

During their investigation of the incident, officers said they “located several bags containing white powder,” stamped with the label “Monkey Shines.” The packaging is “commonly used” in heroin and fentanyl distribution, they claimed. Fentanyl, according to Johns Hopkins, is a “a synthetic opioid 50–100 times more potent than morphine.”

Lopez’s phone also was recovered by police. Detectives who examined it determined “she had been in communication” with Rusek “the evening before, and the early morning hours on, the day of her death.” The two allegedly coordinated Rusek’s travel to Philadelphia to purchase drugs for Lopez, and then again later for Rusek to deliver the substance “to her home several hours prior to her death,” police claimed.

Detectives confirmed the conversation through Rusek’s phone records and witness interviews, the web report stated.

An analysis of the stamped bags by National Medical Services, a Horsham PA laboratory, determined they were found to contain fentanyl, police said. An Jan. 25 autopsy on Lopez’s body, conducted by Montgomery County forensic pathologist Ian C. Hood, determined the cause of her death was fentanyl toxicity, they added.

Charges against Rusek were filed Aug. 14, and included possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, criminal use of a communication facility, recklessly endangering another person, and possession of a controlled substance. He was taken into custody Aug. 27 by township officers.

A preliminary hearing on the charges had been scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed to Sept. 18 before Magisterial District Justice Edward C. Kropp, court records show. Rusek’s confinement at the county jail continues, with bail set at $500,000.

Photo from Lower Pottsgrove Police