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Maui man pleads guilty to 1 charge in fatal fentanyl case

A 33-year-old Makawao man who allegedly sold a fatal fentanyl dose to his co-worker in August 2020 pleaded guilty Tuesday to one charge in the case as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jose Elias Camacho, 33, was indicted Aug. 19, 2021, on charges of distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, and possession with intent to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl.

Camacho agreed to plead guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl. He faces five to 40 years in federal prison, up to a $5 million fine and up to life on federal probation.

He will be sentenced at 10 a.m. Nov. 14 before Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway. Camacho and federal prosecutors agreed to a sentence recommendation of 14 to 16 years, but Oki Mollway will make the final determination.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Albanese is prosecuting the case. Camacho is defended by attorney William A. Harrison.

On Aug. 5, 2020, Camacho received 1,000 round, blue pills with “M30” markings on them, believing them to be oxycodone. The pills were counterfeit and contained fentanyl, according to federal court documents.

On the morning of Aug. 27, 2020, Camacho allegedly sold five pills to Charles Tyler Hardy, 24, of Kihei, according to the documents. Camacho believed he was selling Hardy oxycodone, federal prosecutors said.

Hardy was awaiting trial on a negligent-homicide charge stemming from the fatal 2016 hit-and-run collision that killed a 16-year-old pedestrian in Kihei. Hardy was allegedly drunk and using drugs when he hit a 16-year-old girl while making a left turn from Kaiwahine Street onto the highway, and fled the scene.

Shortly after Hardy bought the drugs Aug. 27, 2020, a co-worker at a construction site found him collapsed on the ground near where he was operating an excavator and called 911, according to court records.

When emergency medical services technicians arrived, Hardy was unconscious, had a low breathing rate and was taking shallow breaths. EMS administered oxygen and Hardy regained consciousness.

While en route to the hospital, Hardy told the medics that he had taken 15 mg of oxycodone that morning.

Later that day, Hardy discharged himself from the hospital, went back to work and bought five more pills from Camacho for $100. The next morning, Hardy’s mother found him dead in their home.

An autopsy revealed he died of “acute intoxication with fentanyl, methamphetamine, and diphenhydra­mine,” commonly known as Benadryl.

Camacho allegedly continued selling the pills and mentioned to an acquaintance that Hardy’s death could have something to do with the counterfeit oxycodone pills.

In October 2020 an officer with the Maui Police Department set up a 50-pill buy with Camacho. On the way to the deal, Camacho was stopped and searched by MPD officers.

They found 53 “M30” pills on him and another 377 in his bedroom, after officers executed a search warrant. Officers also found 28 grams of methamphetamine and $1,165 in cash.

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