HARRISONBURG — A Harrisonburg woman charged in connection with the December 2017 overdose death of the son of a former RUSH Drug Task Force commander pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg.
Iza Rosario Cruzado, 31, pleaded guilty to felony distribution of heroin and fentanyl that resulted in a death. Charges of witness tampering will be dismissed, as part of a plea agreement.
As part of the deal, Cruzado faces between 12 and 16 years when she’s sentenced by Judge Michael Urbanski on Dec. 17.
She was initially charged in January, but a grand jury on June 18 issued a superseding indictment charging Cruzado with trying to intimidate a witness.
The indictment stated 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.
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 2018, 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 Jan. 8 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. He retired from the state police in June.