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Buffalo man pleads guilty to sale of Ecstasy tied to 2013 Electric Zoo death

A Buffalo man pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday to conspiracy charges in connection with the sale of Ecstasy that led to a death at a Randalls Island concert in the summer of 2013.

Patrick Morgan, 23, faces 10 to 16 months in prison under federal guidelines for conspiracy to distribute drugs. His lawyer, Julia Gatto, said she would seek a sentence of probation. U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos allowed him to remain free on bail.

Prosecutors charged that Morgan sold 80 Ecstasy pills -- also known as Molly -- to three individuals who intended to both consume and distribute them at the Electric Zoo music festival, which was attended by an estimated 130,000 people from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.

One of them, Jeffrey Russ, 23, had a seizure after taking the pills and died at Harlem Hospital. The cause of death was acute intoxication by the combined effect of Ecstasy and hyperthermia.

When death "results from" an illegal drug sale, federal law permits a charge that carries a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence. A news release from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara described Morgan as a "supplier of 'Molly' that resulted in a death."

Morgan's defense lawyer did not respond to questions about why he merited just 10 to 16 months. A spokeswoman for Bharara said, "There's nothing we can say beyond that it's a discretionary decision based on many factors."

Bharara, in his news release, said, "This Office remains committed to aggressively pursuing and prosecuting those who peddle this extremely dangerous drug."

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