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2 men plead guilty in deadly series of New Haven overdoses

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HARTFORD — Two New Haven men have pleaded guilty to drug charges connected to a series of overdoses in June that led to three deaths in New Haven.

Fifty-seven-year-old Frank Pina and 48-year-old Steven Whaley pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Hartford to possession and distribution of controlled substances.

The two men were arrested on June 27, within a few days of the overdoses that affected 17 people in New Haven. Authorities said the users believed the substance was cocaine, but an investigation showed it was laced the powerful opioid fentanyl. Three of the victims died.

Federal prosecutors say Pina supplied drugs to several people who overdosed on June 23 and Whaley was identified as an associate of his who sometimes served as a middleman. At the time of his arrest, Whaley was in possession of cocaine packaged for sale.

Pina and Whaley are scheduled to be sentenced on October 31 and November 1, respectively. Each man faces a maximum prison term of 20 years.

The charges stem from an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users.

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