HARRISONBURG — A federal judge denied a Harrisonburg woman’s request to enforce a plea deal made in connection with the December 2017 overdose death of the son of a former RUSH Drug Task Force commander.
Judge Michael Urbanski filed an order Tuesday in U.S. District Court siding against Iza Rosario Cruzado, 30.
“Plea agreements are simply not creatures of contract law,” he wrote. “Rather, the integrity of our criminal justice system allows each side to withdraw from a plea agreement before it is accepted by the court.”
At the time the deal was made, Cruzado was charged with felony distribution of heroin that resulted in a death.
Cruzado faces up to life in prison. The plea agreement called for about eight to 14 years in prison, but federal prosecutors withdrew it before a judge’s approval.
After Cruzado’s attorney filed the motion to enforce the plea agreement, and before Urbanski’s ruling, a grand jury on June 18 issued a superseding indictment charging Cruzado with trying to intimidate a witness could be given.
The indictment states that she offered $25,000 to have R.M. injured or killed to prevent him from testifying against her. The charges state the crime took place in December 2018.
R.M. refers to a co-defendant in the case, Richard Mansfield, according to previous court testimony.
Cruzado was charged on Jan. 3 in U.S. District Court with felony distribution of heroin that resulted in a death.
A jury trial was set for Aug. 5 but, with the new charges, on Tuesday Urbanski rescheduled the trial for Dec. 9.
She already had been facing a state felony murder charge in the Dec. 13, 2017, death of 21-year-old Matthew “Jason” Murphy of Harrisonburg. Murphy had a combination of heroin and fentanyl in his system when he died, prosecutors say.
State prosecutors dropped the murder charge.
Mansfield, 38, of Harrisonburg, is charged federally with distributing heroin and fentanyl, and Norberto Chevere, 44, of Harrisonburg, another co-defendant, is charged in state court with distribution of fentanyl.
Federal agents say police found a series of text messages between Mansfield and Murphy that led federal investigators to charge Mansfield.
Court documents state that Mansfield gave a mixture of heroin and fentanyl to Murphy on Dec. 12, 2017.
In September, Mansfield pleaded guilty to a federal charge of felony distributing a substance containing heroin or fentanyl. Facing up to 30 years in prison, he agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors that calls for a sentencing range of seven to 12 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 13 in federal court.
Federal agents say Mansfield’s statements to police, along with text messages, revealed that Cruzado provided the drugs to Mansfield.
Police say that Chevere, who was taken into custody Oct. 25, provided a mixture of heroin and fentanyl to Cruzado. Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst has said Chevere’s girlfriend is Cruzado’s sister.
Chevere is awaiting trial in Rockingham County Circuit Court.
Murphy battled drug addiction, according to his obituary in the Dec. 15, 2017, edition of the Daily News-Record. He had been convicted of several misdemeanors as an adult, including one conviction for distributing marijuana.
At the time of his death, Murphy faced two felony charges for drug possession and manufacturing drugs.
He was the son of Virginia State Police Special Agent Thomas Murphy III, who began his career with the state police as a trooper in 1988.
In 2001, the elder Murphy took charge of the RUSH Drug Task Force, a combined unit of Harrisonburg police officers, Rockingham County deputies and state police.
In 2011, he transferred to Fairfax, where he remains a drug investigator.