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Reckless homicide charges filed in LCO man’s fentanyl death

By Terrell Boettcher

Sawyer County Record

A Webster man, Calvin D. Riley, 32, has been charged by Sawyer County authorities with first-degree reckless homicide by delivering Fentanyl in the death of a 44-year-old man at a residence near Whitefish Lake on May 22, 2022.

A warrant has been issued for Riley’s arrest. A court date has not yet been set.

The criminal complaint lists the location where the man’s body was found, but identifies him only by the initials GR. The Record contacted Sawyer County Medical Examiner John Froemel, who said Gerald Rusk, 44, was found deceased at 14282W County Road E, in the town of Sand Lake north of Whitefish Lake, on May 22, 2022.

According to the charges, a female cousin of the victim resides at this location—she downstairs and he upstairs. She told a sheriff’s deputy that she had found him deceased in his bed. The deputy observed that the man had been deceased for some time, and observed that Rusk was a holding a cut straw in one hand and a lighter in the other hand. On his person were found two bindles. A third bindle was found in his wallet and a fourth bindle in a dresser drawer.

Sources told a detective that Rusk had gone to work at Trail’s End Resort at 10:30 a.m. May 20, 2022. He left around 4p.m. after being picked up by a male and female. They met Riley near Webster, and he sold them $40 or $60 worth of Fentanyl/heroin. For payment, Riley allowed them to “get high” by smoking the drug from tinfoil. The rest of the drug was kept by Rusk.

The male and female told the detective they had purchased “strong Fentanyl/heroin” from Riley three-four times in the past.

Rusk’s cousin told the detective that she picked up Rusk from work between 11-11:30 p.m. May 20. She spoke to him before he went to his room. On May 22, she found him dead in his room. She then called law enforcement.

On June 8, 2022, a medical doctor conducted an autopsy on Rusk’s body, and stated that the cause of Rusk’s death was “acute Fentanyl toxicity.”

On Nov. 24, 2022, the Wisconsin State Crime Lab informed the detective that the substance found in the bindle with Rusk’s body was heroin/fentanyl. The substance weighed .074 gram.

On Feb. 16, 2023, the detective received test results from Riley’s DNA which indicated that the tinfoil bindle located with Rusk’s body contained Riley’s DNA.

Riley also faces older charges which have not yet been resolved in Sawyer County Court.

Riley is charged with possessing 10 to 50 grams of heroin with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while revoked Aug. 11, 2020, in the town of Hayward.

Sawyer County officers were informed that Riley was enroute to the Hayward area ina black bMW and had a large amount of cash and heroin with him. Sheriff’s deputies and Hayward police stopped the vehicle on Hwy. 63 at Greenwood Lane and arrested Riley for driving while revoked. Riley had $1,978 in cash in his pockets plus a burnt piece of tinfoil which Riley stated contained heroin. Upon searching the vehicle, officers found more burnt tinfoil pieces, 15.9 grams of packaged heroin, a cased .45 caliber handgun in a backpack plus two full magazines of ammunition, four Suboxone strips, a digital scale, narcan nasal spray and liquid, and food cards for an individual whose residence that Riley was reported to be enroute to.

During a post-Miranda interview, Riley stated he had become addicted to heroin a third time and had to sell some to maintain his habit. He stated he had been laid off from his construction job last December, and had been coming to Hayward, parking in a residential driveway and selling heroin to multiple people.

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