An Akron man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after being accused of selling carfentanil, an extremely potent opioid, to a 36-year-old Green resident who died last month of a drug overdose.

Ellis Wilson, 25, faces that first-degree felony, along with a second-degree felony of corrupting another with drugs, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Wilson was arrested last week. He posted bond this week and was let out of the Summit County Jail.

The sheriff's office and the Summit County Drug Unit said the man who died, John C. Norman, thought he had been purchasing heroin, but the drug was carfentanil.

Authorities accused Wilson of selling the drug.

“It doesn’t take away the pain,” Norman’s father, John T. Norman, said Thursday. “I’m glad they made an arrest. The higher they [authorities] go up the food chain, the better. There’s always the person who supplies the actual dealer.”

Ellis might face additional charges, and other people may be charged, pending the outcome of the investigation, Summit County Sheriff’s Office Inspector Bill Holland said.

John C. Norman died of an overdose April 16.

The son was a pipe fitter with the Local 219 Plumber and Pipe Fitters union.

He had been living with his father and mother, and his father found him unresponsive sometime after 5 p.m.

John T. Norman recalled Thursday that he had gone to check on his son, who was in his bedroom, to see if he still planned to make dinner.

“He was a great cook. He cooked every evening," the father said. 

“I did everything I could. I did CPR and when [paramedics] got there I asked them to shock him, and they said it it was too late,” he said.

The son was pronounced dead at the scene and the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office later determined that the cause of death was related to carfentanil use, authorities said.

On Thursday, the father praised the response of the sheriff’s office and the Green Fire Department.

“I don’t know how many cars were there. They were everywhere,” he said.

Authorities said Thursday that they seized drug paraphernalia used to prepare drugs for sale and suspected carfentanil while executing a search warrant at Wilson's residence.

Carfentanil — used to tranquilize large animals — surfaced in Summit County over the July 4 weekend in 2016, causing at least 236 overdoses in Akron over a three-week period.

Street drug dealers discovered they could make much more money by spiking or swapping out heroin for its cheaper and more powerful, lab-made chemical cousins — fentanyl and carfentanil.

Wilson is to be arraigned in Summit County Common Pleas Court on June 19.

Scott Rilley is Ellis’ court-appointed attorney. He said Thursday that it is too early to talk about the case.

Charging people with felonies in connection with fatal overdoses is becoming more common, Rilley said.

On Tuesday, Shawndre Springfield of Akron was sentenced to eight years in prison for selling drugs that caused two fatal overdoses. Springfield had pleaded guilty to two charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors said Springfield sold carfentanil in July 2016 to a 22-year-old Akron man who died after taking it. Police tracked the drugs back to Springfield and charged him with corrupting another with drugs.

While out on bond, Springfield sold drugs in September 2016 to another person who shared them with a 40-year-old Hudson woman who overdosed and died, prosecutors said.

 

Reach Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.