A drug dealer who once told a pal he had to resuscitate a woman after she turned blue and stopped breathing from an overdose of oxycodone and then offered the friend the same drug was sentenced this week to 10 years in federal prison.
Austin Serb, 22, headed a large drug ring that distributed 5,000 oxycodone pills a month, along with heroin, over a three-year period in the Treasure Valley. The drugs were hidden in stuffed teddy bears and candles shipped to Boise by the group’s California supplier.
Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of just over 11 years. They said unlike many drug peddlers, Serb was not an addict who turned to sales to support his own habit. Prosecutors said he was lured to the illicit trade after learning he could make a substantial profit from selling oxycodone, a powerful prescription pain reliever that is commonly abused.
The defendant has shown that he will not be deterred from selling drugs, even after being charged with felony drug offenses.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Nafzger
Never miss a local story.
The proof of that was contained in Senior Judge Edward J. Lodge’s sentence on Tuesday: Serb was ordered to forfeit $1 million in drug profits.
The forfeiture order matched that of co-defendant Christopher D. Snyder, 24, of Boise, who was sentenced in January to seven years in prison.
Information contained in the indictment issued in the case said that in at least one instance, the pills sold by the ring went for three for $100. At that rate, the gang could have taken in $6 million over the three years.
Serb was arrested at the Boise Towne Square mall in December 2013 after police found 72 oxycodone pills in his possession. Initially arrested on state charges, Serb was released from jail before being indicted on federal charges in March 2014. While he was free, he continued to sell drugs, prosecutors said.
In one of hundreds of phone calls by Serb intercepted through a wiretap, Serb told his mother “Mom, what happened at the mall was a rookie mistake. It’s not going to happen again,” according to a sentencing memo filed in U.S. District Court.
“Your new charges are not a big deal,” his mother replied.
14 Number of defendants charged in the case
Serb built up a customer base by initially handing out the highly addictive oxycodone pills for free. He did the same thing while recruiting dealers and his co-conspirators, prosecutors said.
“The defendant’s crime is one of greed and great indifference to others,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Nafzger wrote in the sentencing memo. “They can all thank the defendant for their suffering, as he sought out a source for oxycodone and flooded the Boise area with oxycodone pills and heroin.”
During one of the intercepted phone calls, Serb said he had been selling drugs since he was 13.
Serb pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and heroin. Three other charges, for distribution of oxycodone and heroin, were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea.
The supplier, Ajellon Dedeaux, 27, of Rancho Cordova, Calif., received the stiffest sentence in the case. He was sentenced in May to 12 years in prison and was ordered to forfeit $1.75 million in profits.
Sentences for others in the case:
▪ Jordan Grainger, 24, Meridian, 48 months in prison and forfeiture of $100,000.
▪ Jeffery Manchester Jr., 28, Renton, Wash., 37 months in prison and forfeiture of $32,000.
▪ James Acarregui, 29, Boise, three years in prison and forfeiture of $125,000.
▪ Andrew Colwell, 24, Boise, 30 months in prison and forfeiture of $440,000.
▪ Ellen McDaniel, 44, Boise, 30 months in prison and forfeiture of $20,000.
▪ Kekai Wachi, 20, Boise, 21 months in prison and forfeiture of $60,000.
▪ Jared Hicks, 22, Caldwell, 18 months in prison and forfeiture of $40,000.
▪ Travis Fraser, 19, Boise, 1 year in prison and forfeiture of $40,000.
▪ Tyler Goodwin, 28, Shelton, Wash., 10 months in prison and forfeiture of $3,000.
▪ Jordan Baptista, 19, Boise, three years of probation and forfeiture of $75,000.
▪ Kevin Daniels, 19, Boise, three years of probation and forfeiture of $7,500.