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Illinois man who removed evidence from opioid overdose death scene in Iowa instead of calling 911 sent to prison


This news story was published on September 2, 2020.
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Federal courthouse, Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS – A man who removed drugs and paraphernalia from an opioid overdose death scene and then lied to police was sentenced today to nearly two years in federal prison.

Mateusz D. Syryjczyk, age 29, from Rockford, Illinois, received the prison term after a March 13, 2020 guilty plea to one count of misprision of a felony.

At the plea hearing, Syryjczyk admitted that, in May 2019, he knew that the crime of distribution of controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury had occurred. He also admitted that he failed to notify authorities that the crime had been committed and that he took affirmative steps to conceal the crime. Evidence at a prior hearing showed that Syryjczyk and his girlfriend, Jacqueline Birch, and another individual drove to a residence in Dubuque, Iowa, during the late evening of May 26, 2019. Birch and the other individual went into the residence, and returned a short time later with purported heroin they had purchased inside the residence. The three then drove to a hotel in Dubuque, where they all used the purported heroin. The third individual began to overdose in the room. Birch and Syryjczyk did not immediately call 911, but, over the course of multiple hours, Birch would occasionally perform CPR on the individual to restore some breathing function, though the person never regained consciousness. Eventually, Birch and Syryjczyk decided they needed to call 911, and Syryjczyk took the remaining drug paraphernalia from the room to prevent law enforcement from finding it. Syryjczyk also made false statements to the responding police officers about the cause of the individual’s condition. That individual was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy later determined the cause of death was use of heroin, fentanyl, and valeryl fentanyl.
Syryjczyk was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Syryjczyk was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment. He must also serve a one-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Syryjczyk was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date yet to be set.

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

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