Timothy Wolfe (24) is indicted in Federal Court on charge of selling fentanyl causing death

PASO ROBLES — The United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles has indicted Timothy Clark Wolfe (24) of Paso Robles on the charge of selling fentanyl causing death. This federal criminal case will supersede local prosecution of Wolfe for second-degree murder of Emilio Velci (19) of Atascadero.

Timothy Clark Wolfe (24) of Paso Robles

District Attorney Dan Dow announced on Thursday, July 28 that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California has filed a criminal indictment against Timothy Clark Wolfe (DOB 04-02-98) of Paso Robles for allegedly selling fake pharmaceutical pills containing fentanyl to 19-year-old Atascadero resident Emilio Velci resulting in death. The fatal incident occurred on March 8, 2020. 

May 20, 2020, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office charged Wolfe with second-degree murder for the incident. It was alleged that Wolfe sold the victim three pills that appeared to be 30 milligram Percocet (a mixture of oxycodone and acetaminophen). However, the pills sold by Wolfe contained fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid known to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The 19-year-old took one pill and died from fentanyl intoxication. A search of Wolfe’s residence located alprazolam pills, believed to have been possessed for the purpose of illegal sale.

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Today, Wolfe was arrested after a federal grand jury returned an indictment for the crimes of distributing fentanyl causing death and possession with the intent to distribute alprazolam. 

The federal charge of distributing fentanyl causing death carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in federal prison. The charge of possession with the intent to distribute alprazolam carries a maximum sentence of five years. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office will dismiss existing state charges in light of the federal prosecution. Wolfe is expected to be arraigned in the United States District Court for Los Angeles on Friday, July 29, 2022. 

The federal law that criminalizes the distribution of fentanyl causing death is a powerful tool in tackling the national fentanyl epidemic by holding drug dealers accountable at a very high level. The state charge of second-degree murder requires proof that the accused was personally aware that taking the drug they sold created a high likelihood of death, whereas the federal law more broadly prohibits the unlawful providing to another person a listed drug that results in the death of the user. 

“Buying and selling illicit prescription drugs on the street is deadly dangerous. While a purchaser may believe they are buying a pharmaceutical-grade painkiller, there is no way to know who made them, where they came from, or what is in them. Sadly, it often leads to overdose and death,” said District Attorney Dan Dow. “We will continue to work closely with our federal law enforcement partners to protect our community by aggressively pursuing fentanyl dealers for their reckless behavior.”

According to the DEA, criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fake pills pressed with fentanyl in clandestine, unregulated labs. These fake pills are designed to look like pharmaceutical grade prescription pills, typically replicating opioid medications such as oxycodone (brand names Oxycontin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (brand name Vicodin); sedatives such as alprazolam (brand name Xanax); and stimulants such as amphetamines (brand name Adderall). Pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous and potentially lethal. 

For more information, visit dea.gov/onepill.

This crime was investigated by the Atascadero Police Department with the assistance of the Paso Robles Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation. Investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration continues. 

If you or someone you know is addicted to opioids, please visit the County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Services webpage at slobehavioralhealth.org or call (800) 838-1381. 

It is important to note that criminal charges must be proven in a court of law by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.