By Rick Hiduk
(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)
James Eugene Rought of Tunkhannock, who was charged on Oct. 16 with “death by drug delivery” and “serious bodily injury by drug delivery” appeared in Scranton Federal Court on Friday, Oct. 26, where he was denied bail and ordered held in federal prison to await a December trial.
The charges stem from the overdose death of Tunkhannock resident Dana Carichner and an unidentified female who survived an overdose. They were filed by Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell after an extensive investigation.
According to the criminal docket filed in the U.S. District Court Middle District at Scranton, a writ of habease corpus was issued to Rought on Oct. 18 by the Hon. Malachy Mannion. Rought also entered a plea of “not guilty” on Oct. 18 and presented a financial affidavit that led the court to appoint federal public defender Elliot Smith to Rought’s case.
The prosecuting attorney is Michelle Olshefsky from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Scranton.
Jury selection and trial have been set for Monday, Dec. 17.
Mitchell indicated in a Facebook post that Rought is being charged in federal court due to the longer sentence he can face as compared to state court.
Such cases are hard to prosecute because the chief witness is often deceased, Mitchell explained in an earlier interview. In this case, prosecutors found a witness who was able to say that she received fentanyl from Rought at the same time as Carichner, who died on Aug. 17. The witness overdosed at a different location and was revived by first responders.
Family members and friends of Carichner were present in the courtroom on Friday.