by Jane Flasch

Thursday, June 21st 2018

Brian Saez, 26, had been accused of selling heroin to a man shortly before he died of a drug overdose. (Photo: Gates PD)

Gates, N.Y. (WHAM) - A Rochester man pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and attempted sale of a controlled substance on Thursday morning.

Brian Saez, 26, had been accused of selling heroin to Sean Van Iderstine shortly before he died of a drug overdose.

Gates Police said Van Iderstine, 33, bought the drug about one hour before his death in January. Gates Police now treat overdoses as homicides. In this case, they tracked down Saez. In February, he sold fentanyl to an undercover officer. The drug matched drugs ingested by Van Iderstine.

"If you're a drug dealer, you're playing Russian Roulette," said Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode. "We will come after you, and I think this case shows that we are serious about that."

“We hope that with the defendant's admission of guilt, Sean’s family and friends can continue to heal and mourn the loss of their loved one," said Assistant District Attorney Gregory Clark, who prosecuted the case.

Recovering heroin addict Dave Attridge was in court to watch the plea. He said during his days of using, he would seek out dealers with the most potent drugs - even if that meant death.

"Your body has to have that," Attridge said. "It's more important than water, shelter, food - you have to have that next fix."

Chief VanBrederode says dealers know that and exploit that. "They all know what's going on; they just don't care. It's all about the money, and they don't care about life."

"To the people who are addicted, we are going to get help for you and your family," said Gates Supervisor Mark Assini. "To the people that deal in poison, we are coming for you."

Saez is both one of the accused and one of the addicted. "He has a significant heroin and cocaine addiction problem. He knew what he was doing was wrong; he was doing it to support his drug habit," said defense attorney Michael Schiano.

While in the Monroe County Jail, inmates have access to addiction counselors. Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter is seeking a specialized housing unit - a 12-bed rehab within the jail.

"We have the best opportunity inside a jail or corrections facility to fix some of these addictions," Baxter said. "We can have 30-day inpatient, 60-day inpatient, 90-day inpatient," referring to the fact that incarcerated inmates cannot simply walk away.

As part of the plea agreement, Saez will be sentenced to 3 years for the attempted sale of a controlled substance conviction and 2-4 years for the criminally negligent homicide conviction. Both will be served concurrently. Drug treatment continues in state prison.

The deal that holds him accountable for homicide may ultimately lead to a life away from heroin's grip.

"It literally draws us to things we never imagined we would do," Attridge said. "That drug keeps pulling us back."

Saez will be sentenced on July 19, in front of County Court Judge Vincent Dinolfo