Pittsboro, NC – Chatham County Sheriff’s Office deputies have arrested and charged Allen David Wendel, 41, of 106 Goldwood Ct., Cary, with felony death by distribution following the death of a 55-year-old Chapel Hill resident. Wendel is accused of illegally selling controlled substances to the victim, contributing to the victim’s fatal overdose on August 31, 2021. A toxicology report found fentanyl, heroin and cocaine in the victim’s system.
The crime falls under North Carolina’s “Death by Distribution” Act, which first took effect on December 1, 2019. NC Governor Roy Cooper signed the Act (NCGS §14-18.4) into law in response to the increasing number of deaths related to the opioid epidemic. The law allows for the prosecution of individuals who sell drugs to buyers who later overdose as a result of using those controlled substances.
Wendel was assigned a $125,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Chatham County District Court in Pittsboro on September 12, 2022.
This is the second death by distribution arrest to be announced by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in recent weeks; Samantha Carolina Biehl, 38, of 2527 Buffalo Church Road, Apt. 7D, Sanford, was also arrested for felony death by distribution following the death of a Siler City resident in March 2021.
Both arrests are the result of extensive, year-long investigations.
“Death by distribution cases can be incredibly difficult to prove or prosecute, making it even more essential for authorities to conduct thorough investigations and follow all leads,” explains Sheriff’s Office Captain Ronnie Miller. “Acquiring autopsy and toxicology reports, conducting evidence testing, holding interviews, obtaining search warrants, reviewing phone and internet records, and so on—each phase of the process takes time, manpower, and resources from multiple agencies. Without teamwork and persistence, this outcome would not have been possible.”
Sheriff Mike Roberson stresses that arrests are only a small piece of a greater plan developed and implemented by the Sheriff’s Prevention Partnership on Controlled Substances (SPPCS). The SPPCS is a coalition of local authorities and first responders, medical and mental health professionals, educators, stakeholders, survivors and other service providers who joined forces to combat the opioid epidemic and its impacts locally. The group has directly contributed to increased education, training, programming, and life-saving efforts in Chatham County. The Sheriff’s Office says Biehl and Wendel’s arrests are not the first nor are they expected to be the last; additional drug-related investigations remain active and could lead to more death by distribution charges in coming months.
“Our staff members take public health and safety seriously, and we recognize that drug abuse and addiction impacts us all. Law enforcement must continue working together with the community to create lasting change,” explains Roberson. “As we unite, we must be willing to share resources, ideas, and experiences in order to make educated decisions on behalf of our families and shared community. We have to support one another.”
Anyone with information about these cases or who suspects criminal activity in their area should call 9-1-1 to speak with a deputy as soon as possible.