Public Safety

Illinois man convicted of not calling 911 for#xa0;heroin overdose victim, removing evidence from scene

He first removed drug items from hotel before getting help for friend

An Illinois man who removed drug evidence from an opioid overdose death scene in Dubuque was convicted last week in federal court and faces up to three years in prison.

Mateusz D. Syryjczyk, 29, of Rockford, Ill., pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony.

During Friday’s plea hearing, Syryjczyk admitted he knew that distributing controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury had occurred in May of last year. He also admitted he failed to notify authorities that the crime had been committed and that he concealed the crime.

Evidence at a previous hearing showed Syryjczyk and his girlfriend, Jacqueline Birch, also charged in the case, and another person, not identified in court, went to a Dubuque residence in May 26 and bought heroin. They drove to a hotel in Dubuque, where they used the heroin, and the unidentified person began to show signs of having overdosed.

Birch and Syryjczyk didn’t immediately call 911, but did perform CPR over multiple hours to restore some breathing function, though the person never regained consciousness.

Eventually, Birch and Syryjczyk decided they needed to call 911, but Syryjczyk first removed the remaining drug paraphernalia from the room to prevent law enforcement from finding it, according court documents.

Syryjczyk also made false statements to authorities about the cause of the person’s condition. That person died at the scene.

An autopsy determined the cause of death was use of heroin, fentanyl and valeryl fentanyl.

Sentencing will be set after a presentence report is completed. Syryjczyk is free on bond pending sentencing. 

He faces up to three years in federal prison and one year of supervised release, following any prison time.

The case was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Chatham. 

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