Guilty plea entered in heroin case

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Mike Heine
Thursday, March 6, 2008
— Michael E. Flaherty’s best friend died from the heroin Flaherty gave him March 18.

But less than a week later, Flaherty sold $60 worth of heroin to a police informant, telling the informant the drugs wouldn’t hurt him, according to court documents.

Flaherty, 27, Burlington, pleaded guilty Wednesday to reckless homicide in the death of his friend, Joseph William May. Flaherty is the first man in Walworth County convicted of homicide by delivering drugs, commonly known as the Len Bias law.

The law, named after the University of Maryland basketball star who died in 1986 from a cocaine overdose, allows prosecution of people who supply drugs that contribute to an overdose death.

May was 21 when he died in Flaherty’s basement apartment at 1327 W. Main St., Lake Geneva.

Flaherty told a police informant, “Dude died on my living room floor—my best friend I grew up with,” according to the criminal complaint.

May drank “almost a whole bottle” of rum and “shot up like three times,” Flaherty told the informant, according to the complaint. “The thing is, I didn’t really give it to him. He did it to himself, you know.”

Flaherty told the informant he left his house momentarily but ran back inside when he heard his girlfriend screaming, according to the complaint.

“I run back there. I go in the house. He’s, he’s just (expletive) deader than dead. His eyes were all completely red ...” Flaherty said, according to the complaint.

His girlfriend was attempting CPR on May. Flaherty told the informant he “pushed them out of the way, grabbed all of the dope and took off running, dude.”

Flaherty told an informant he hid the heroin under a porch about six houses away.

Police found eight bindles of heroin in a jar under a porch about the same distance away Flaherty described. May died of a lethal overdose of heroin, according to the complaint.

Police set up a controlled buy March 23, and Flaherty sold an informant heroin, according to the complaint.

The informant asked if “the stuff” was going to hurt him, and Flaherty said “no,” according to the complaint.

In court Wednesday, defense attorney K. Richard Wells pointed out that May’s mother was not asking the court for a stiff sentence. Flaherty and May were childhood friends and had lived together on and off, Wells said.

“I know he feels horrible about the situation, more than he could have imagined,” Wells said on behalf of his client.

Wells said Flaherty has quit using drugs and “wants to move on.”

Flaherty faces up to 20 years in prison and 20 years extended supervision when he is sentenced May 1.

Related lesser charges and prior drug possession charges from 2006 were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Last updated: 8:01 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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