A Columbus heroin dealer sentenced last week is considered one of two men largely responsible for dozens of overdoses in Bartholomew County a year ago, an investigator testified in court.
Cyrus P. Nida, 20, of 2663 Forest Drive, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in a state prison by Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge Jim Worton.
When more than 40 drug overdoses occurred in late summer and early fall of 2016, about a dozen victims told police they had obtained the narcotic through Nida, according to testimony from the investigating undercover officer with Bartholomew County’s Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team.
During the investigation, the names of Nida and Christopher P. Rees surfaced more than any other suspected dealers, the undercover officer said.
Nida and Rees worked together in bringing the narcotic into Bartholomew County, with Rees traveling to Cincinnati and Nida to Indianapolis, the undercover officer said.
Rees, 23, who sold drugs out of his former residence on Hope Avenue, was handed down a 10-year sentence in Worton’s court last April.
Some of the heroin connected with Rees and Nida was determined to be laced with fentanyl, an opioid that can be 40 to 50 percent more powerful than heroin alone, according to medical sources.
The drug deals cited in the original charges against Nida took place over two consecutive days in late September 2016, according to court documents.
But it wasn’t until March 30 that Nida was charged in court with two counts of dealing in a narcotic drug: one as a Level 4 felony and the other as a Level 5 felony. The lower the number, the more serious the crime.
Detectives served the arrest warrant April 3 after observing Nida selling heroin in the driveway of his residence, Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Matt Harris said last spring.
When the home was searched, investigators found four grams of heroin, a handgun, a loaded shotgun, a large amount of ammunition and drug paraphernalia, Harris said.
Four months after his arrest, Nida accepted a plea bargain. He agreed to plead guilty to the Level 4 felony, punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
In exchange, the lesser count was dropped and prosecutors agreed not to charge Nida with the drug deal they witnessed the day of his arrest.
After taking the stand, Nida said he had been using heroin and methamphetamine regularly since he was 16, and only sold drugs to supply his own addiction.
His mother, Joanna B. Nida, testified that her son, who has been unemployed since November, did not provide any financial assistance to her.
But those statements were challenged as deputy prosecutor Greg Long played a recording of a telephone conversation between the mother and son that took place while he was in jail.
In the recording, Cyrus Nida could be heard instructing his mother not to tell investigators about money he had given her to help the family out.
While Cyrus Nida claimed he didn’t make money from selling drugs, he had posted a photograph on social media that displayed guns and more than $1,000 in cash, Long said.
Nida had described the money as “pocket change” in his post, Long said.
Nida testified the money shown in the photograph came from an insurance settlement following an accident. But that claim was challenged by Long, who stated records show the insurance settlement was received several months before the photograph was taken.
“Based on the totality of the evidence, I find your testimony is just not credible,” the judge told Nida.
While Worton also chided Joanna Nida for making false statements in court, the judge said he was especially bothered when he heard Cyrus Nida’s voice in the recorded telephone conversation telling his mother with profane language that he was going to kill the informant who turned him in.
Worton declined to suspend any part of Nida’s sentence, and also denied a defense request that Nida be immediately placed in an extensive addiction treatment recovery program with the Indiana Department of Correction.
Worton said he will only consider putting Nida in the program, known as purposeful incarceration, if he can stay out of trouble for an unspecified amount of time in the prison’s general population.
In addition to the prison sentence, Worton also ordered that Nida pay $350 to the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team to reimburse investigators for the drug-buy money.