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Arrest Two in Oconto Death

Issue Date: May 9, 2019

Suspected drug dealers Brian A. Blasing, 29, and Chastity M. Denny, 29, both of Oconto, are being held in Oconto County Jail on charges connected with the death of Jeffery D. Pecha, also of Oconto, on Sept. 12, 2018. They may also have been involved in a drug death in Marinette County earlier this year. That investigation is continuing.

The pair was arrested on Monday, April 29 by officers of the Oconto County Sheriff's Department and City of Oconto Police Department. Authorities had information they were traveling to Green Bay to buy drugs. They were stopped just south of Oconto on U.S. 41 and arrested.

At an initial appearance on Wednesday, May 1, Oconto County Circuit Court Judge Jay Conley set bail at $100,000 each. An adjourned initial appearance is set for 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 9. They remain in Oconto County Jail.

According to anews release issued on Tuesday by Oconto County Sheriff Todd Skarban, both Blasing and Denny are charged with First Degree Reckless Homicide " Delivery of Drugs, and with Delivery of Heroin for the same incident, with additional charges pending for items located during the April 29 arrest.

The homicide charges each carry a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, while the top sentence on the drug charges is 12  years.

Blasing was already facing other charges in Oconto and Brown counties. In Oconto County, he was charged March 25 with obstructing an officer an incident on March 21. At his initial appearance that day, he posted $500 cash bond. In Brown County, he was charged Feb. 18 with possession of cocaine-repeater and possession of drug paraphernalia over an incident that day. He was free on $350 bond.

Prosecution is being handled by the Oconto County District Attorney Edward Burke.

The case began at about 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2018, when Pecha was found not breathing in the 300 block of Congress Street, where he had apparently collapsed on the steps of a house.

An autopsy report determined Pecha died from a "mixed drug intoxication" from heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.

According to other news reports, Denny told an Oconto County investigator she and Blasing were involved in a Marinette County overdose death.

Marinette County Sheriff's Department Narcotics investigator Detective Bill Swanson confirmed Monday that he and other investigators are working on a possibly related case connected with a death in Marinette County earlier this year.

Asked why it should have taken so long to make an arrest for Pecha's death, Swanson said sometimes there are suspects from the start, "But there's a lot of work that goes into something like this. Lots of investigating was done by Marinette and Oconto county officers in the intervening months." He said it is better to be sure a case is sound before making an arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses saw Pecha in a car with Blasing and Denny shortly before his death, and a download of information on Pecha's phone found text messages between the two men discussing drug sales.

Further investigation led to the development of confidential informants who said that Blasing and Denny were involved in selling heroin and methamphetamine. A confidential informant was used to buy cocaine from Blasing and Denny in January.

In an interview with an investigator, Denny denied knowing that Pecha met her and Blasing to buy drugs when they picked him up for the ride near her residence. Blasing lived one block away. But she said that all her interactions with Pecha involved drug sales, and admitted she sometimes acted as a "middle" between Blasing and Pecha.

Two syringes found in Pecha's pockets had presence of heroin and morphine.

Denny and Blasing are also charged with manufacturing or delivering less than 3 grams of heroin.

The news release issued by Skarban credits other agencies with helping collect evidence that led to the arrests. He states that the Oconto County Sheriff's Office is affiliated with the Northeast Tri-County Drug Enforcement Group (NETDEG) and was assisted by other agencies that are a part of NETDEG during this investigation, including the Marinette County Sheriff's Office and the Marinette Police Department.

"We were also assisted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Appleton Regional Office, Dane County Medical Examiner's Office, and the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory in Madison. We appreciate the time and effort put forth by these assisting agencies," Skarban said.

He added, "The Oconto County Sheriff's Office is committed to promoting a safe, healthy and drug free community. We ask for your assistance in reporting any tips on the illegal sale and distribution of narcotics within our communities. Help us pursue those that traffic these dangerous drugs. You may report this activity by calling 920-834-6900.

"We also want anyone who is struggling with addiction to seek help and begin recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out for more information to start the process of recovery. If you are a resident of Oconto County you may call 920-834-7000 for further information. If you live in a different county, you may call their Human Services or contact Wisconsin Narcotics Anonymous at 800-240-0276 or www.wisconsinna.org."

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Swanson told the Peshtigo Times that heroin available for purchase today generally has more phentanol than it did in the past. He said also that dealers sometimes think they have cocaine, but instead it's meth, or a cocktail of different things. He said for example he received a report from the Wisconsin State crime lab last week on a sample in which the heroin was mixed with caffeine and quinine. Phentanol is extremely cheap, but much stronger, so if dealers throw some in the mix to make it go farther, they make more money.

Meanwhile, he said authorities in both counties are continuing to investigate, and appreciate any information that helps get drugs off the streets.


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