Southern District of California | Poway men sentenced for firefighter’s death from fentanyl overdose

For more information, contact:
Assistant United States Attorneys Maritsa A. Flaherty (619) 546-6964 and Larry Casper (619) 546-6734

SAN DIEGO – Justin Gale Mata and Everett Justin Curtis, both Poway residents, were sentenced today in federal court to 180 months and 151 months in prison, respectively, for supplying the fentanyl that caused the fatal overdose of Brian M. Parrish, a Cal Fire firefighter.

In their plea agreements, the defendants admitted they knowingly supplied the fentanyl that led to Parrish’s death.

In imposing the fifteen-year sentence on defendant Mata, U.S. District Judge Cynthia A. Bashant took note of his criminal record, explaining that he needed to “be concerned about the protection of the public” in light of the ongoing opioid and trafficking crisis. of fentanyl and other dangerous products by Mata. drugs

On January 30, 2021, Curtis and Parrish exchanged text messages about purchasing fentanyl from Mata. Curtis picked up Parrish and the two headed to a casino to meet Mata. While at the casino, Curtis facilitated the drug business. Ultimately, Mata supplied the fatal fentanyl and Parrish subsequently overdosed on fentanyl. Parrish died early the next morning.

The victim’s family described Parrish in court records as a loving and fun-loving “natural child.” Parrish’s father said that he was “born smiling.” The loss of Parrish has left a “hole” in the hearts of his entire family, according to his mother, including his parents, his sisters, their three children and his grandson. Likewise, Parrish’s girlfriend called him “the light” of his life. At the time of sentencing, Parrish’s mother said that, as a firefighter, his son “was in danger when others fled.” Parrish’s fire captain told the court that Parrish “was a great firefighter” who “loved what he did” and “what the job represented.”

“Brian Parrish dedicated himself as a firefighter to fighting California’s deadly wildfires, and his loss is tragic for his family and the entire community,” said US Attorney Randy Grossman. “The US Attorney’s Office will tirelessly seek justice for victims like Brian, and will continue to hold traffickers accountable under federal law when their drugs result in death. If you are a dealer, find a different business, you will get caught and the money you make from fentanyl is not worth the hard time you will spend in a federal prison cell.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team and agents from the DEA’s Overdose Response Team, which was created to address drug overdose deaths in San Diego, for their excellent work on this case.

“DEA and our law enforcement partners continue to aggressively pursue people who supply drugs in our community,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “If a dealer provides drugs that cause someone’s death, we will focus on bringing them to justice.”

A third co-defendant in the case, Ashley C. Cohen, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Mata, her boyfriend, to distribute fentanyl. Cohen, who was not involved in Parrish’s death, was previously sentenced to 41 months.

U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman praised prosecutors Maritsa Flaherty and Larry Casper, as well as agents from the DEA Overdose Response Team created to address drug overdose deaths in San Diego, for their efforts in these cases. .

For those suffering from addiction, know that there is help. Call the Crisis Line at 888-724-7240; it is always open.

DEFENDANTS Case number 21-CR-2063-BAS
Everett Justin Curtis Age: 48 Poway, CA
justin gale kills Age: 41 Poway, CA
Ashley Chyanne Cohen Age: 28 San Diego, California


Bush – Distribution of Fentanyl – Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1)
Maximum penalty: Forty years in prison; minimum of five years

Curtis- Distribution of Fentanyl – Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1)
Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison


Drug Enforcement Administration
San Diego Police Department


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