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Long prison sentences for people who helped firefighter get fentanyl

Justin Mata, 41, was sentenced to 15 years and Everett Curtis, 48, was sentenced to just over 12 years for the overdose death of Brian Parrish.

SAN DIEGO — Two Poway residents who pleaded guilty to supplying a local firefighter with fentanyl have been sentenced to prison. That firefighter, Brian Parrish, later died from an overdose. Justin Mata, 41, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Everett Curtis, 48, was sentenced to just over 12 years.

“This is a problem that is affecting all ages, all races, all socioeconomic groups,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Casper. He says 817 people died in our county last year from fentanyl. That's an average of more than 2 every day. “These are not people who are homeless, who are in the streets, these are everyday ordinary people.”

Casper says Parrish became addicted to painkillers after being treated with opioid medications following a car accident. It's a story he hears a lot. 

“Many times that results in them suffering and the pain is too much for them to bear and they turn to illegal drugs and ultimately, sadly, to fentanyl,” said Casper.

Text messages showed that Parrish got the drugs with help from his friend, Everett Curtis, who knew a dealer, Justin Mata. 

Curtis and Mata could have faced 20 years in prison if their cases had gone to trial and they were found guilty. Instead, they pleaded guilty and received shorter sentences. 

“We are pleased with the sentence,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Maritsa Flaherty, who handled these cases. “It sends a strong message to those in the community that dealing fentanyl is a crime that will result in serious penalties.”

Parrish's family is letting the U.S. Attorney's office talk about Brian's case because they hope that sharing his story will save other families from feeling their pain. 

In a statement to CBS 8, they said, “Hopefully we can reach or inspire someone who could potentially need help to ask for help to de-stigmatize the idea that no one is out of the reach of addiction. Please know that what happened with Brian does not dictate the type of person that he was and all of the wonderful things that he achieved and all of the people who he saved in his career as a firefighter.”

Brian Parrish was 43 years old.


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