Man involved in fatal overdose spared prison

Judge orders probation for former area resident who delivered heroin, then helped nab accused dealer charged with homicide
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

A 27-year-old man who pleaded guilty in Ozaukee County Circuit Court to buying heroin from a Milwaukee dealer and delivering it to a Grafton man who died of an overdose in the Town of Saukville in December was spared a prison sentence Tuesday.

Following the recommendation of a prosecutor, Reserve Judge Timothy Van Akkeren withheld a prison sentence and placed Samuel C. McCutcheon on probation for four years.

McCutcheon, a Fond du Lac resident who according to court records used to live in Port Washington, pleaded guilty to one felony count of delivering heroin to 57-year-old Richard Ziebell, a standout basketball player at Grafton High School who went on to become a licensed drug and alcohol counselor.

Ziebell’s body was found in a vehicle in Tendick Park on Dec. 21. An autopsy determined he overdosed on heroin and alprazolam, a prescription medication better known by the brand name Xanax that is used to treat anxiety disorder.

While McCutcheon was charged with delivering heroin to Ziebell, the dealer McCutcheon allegedly bought it from, 28-year-old Dartanjal V. Williams, is charged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with first-degree reckless homicide in connection with Ziebell’s death.

Williams pleaded not guilty to the charge last month.

Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Lindsay described McCutcheon as a “go-between” who delivered drugs from Williams to McCutcheon and who used drugs himself.

“It is very clear that Mr. McCutcheon, in addition to helping facilitate the delivery of heroin to the victim in this case, is also a user,” Lindsay said. 

A mitigating factor, one that presumably explains why a prison sentence was not recommended, is that McCutcheon helped lead authorities to Williams and set up his arrest, Lindsay said.

Noting that the case involved an overdose death and alluding to the fact no incarceration was recommended by the prosecution, Van Akkeren said, “Certainly this is not the most common recommendation I’ve heard from the state.”

But, Van Akkeren said, the recommendation was appropriate given the fact McCutcheon cooperated with authorities and took responsibility for his crime.

Van Akkeren was substituting for Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Steve Cain, who was sworn in last week to replace Judge Joseph Voiland. Like all new judges, Cain is participating in a mentoring program before hearing cases.

McCutcheon’s attorney, Matthew Meyer, said that rather than an intermediary between Williams and Ziebell, McCutcheon and Ziebell essentially purchased the heroin together, although it was McCutcheon who picked it up in Milwaukee.

Meyer said McCutcheon’s drug addiction is tied to his service with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

“During that time, he lost two of his very best friends to IEDs,” Meyer said. 

McCutcheon suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that went undiagnosed for some time after he was honorably discharged from the Army in 2015, Meyer said.

McCutcheon also suffered a hand injury in Afghanistan for which he was prescribed pain medication, Meyer said, adding that when his prescriptions ran out, McCutcheon found alternatives.

“Eventually pills turned into heroin,” he said. 

According to criminal complaints in the cases against McCutcheon and Williams, shortly after Ziebell’s death, authorities found a text message exchange on Ziebell’s cell phone between him and a man who used the alias Bam Bam Sam. Authorities confirmed that Bam Bam Sam is McCutcheon.

Interviewed by authorities after Ziebell’s death, McCutcheon said that on Dec. 19 he picked up heroin for Ziebell but used it himself. The next day, he said, he borrowed $150 and bought more heroin, some of which he used before giving the rest to Ziebell at a Saukville gas station.

McCutcheon told authorities that he buys crack cocaine and heroin, which is always “good stuff,” from a man known as Tru, who authorities identified as Williams, according to the complaint against Williams.

McCutcheon said Williams sells drugs from his silver Infinity sedan in Milwaukee. He said Williams usually carries about $10,000 and keeps a gun in his car, the complaint states.

Working with authorities, McCutcheon arranged to buy heroin and cocaine from Williams in Milwaukee on Jan. 3. Members of the Ozaukee County Anti-Drug Task Force and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency saw Williams conduct about 10 drug deals before he met with McCutcheon on South 63rd Street, according to the complaint. 

When DEA agents confronted Williams, he ran from his car and through several yards before being arrested.

Williams was booked in the Ozaukee County jail but later posted $10,000 bail and is free while awaiting trial.

The homicide charge Williams faces is punishable by a maximum 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision.

McCutcheon faced a maximum 7-1/2 years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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