It was the call she had wanted for more than a year — her only child’s alleged drug dealer had been arrested, according to state police.
Veronica Gower’s only child, a 30-year-old son named Jeremy Alterio, died April 7, 2016 in Bellefonte from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl.
“I cried, and I was so overcome with emotion,” Gower said. “I was told that these cases are hard to prove, but that the case was strong. I know now just how few cases make it to court. I wish everyone and every case had justice.”
Jason Dunlap, her child’s alleged drug dealer, was arrested Aug. 8 in an Oregon motel where he stayed with his girlfriend for two weeks. Dunlap, of Milesburg, was indicted on one count of heroin and fentanyl distribution resulting in death, one count of distribution of heroin and seven counts of possession with intent to deliver heroin.
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A criminal docket filed in the United States Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania detailed how Dunlap allegedly sold the drugs that killed Alterio.
Dunlap allegedly traveled at least nine times in the 12 days before Alterio’s death from State College to Philadelphia where he bought drugs from a supplier. Dunlap later allegedly sold drugs to Alterio after two of the trips, the last resulting in his death.
State police at Rockview responded to Alterio’s Bellefonte residence April 7, 2016 when he was found dead. Investigators established through Alterio’s cell phone that alleged $40 heroin deals were made with Dunlap by Facebook messenger. The final exchange was made shortly before midnight April 6, 2016.
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency “stopped” Dunlap on the day of Alterio’s death and allegedly found 59 red packets of heroin in his possession. The criminal docket said that Dunlap had told his supplier he did not want to purchase any more blue packets, which allegedly resulted in Alterio’s death.
Dunlap allegedly waived his Miranda rights and gave a statement that explained how he received drugs from a Philadelphia supplier. The criminal docket also said that Dunlap allegedly continued to sell drugs despite Alterio’s death.
“I’m one of the lucky ones if you can believe that,” Gower said. “There is enough evidence to prosecute him.”
If convicted of the charges filed against him, Dunlap could face a sentence of life imprisonment and a $18 million fine.
Gower recently launched a petition for harsher state penalties against dealers that sell drugs resulting in death.
“I think its the only way we're really going to change what's been going on in our community,” Gower said. “Something drastic needs to be done. To me, they are murderers, and I’d say that if my own child hadn’t died.”
She also wants a drug rehabilitation facility to open in Centre County and for there to be more education available on helping addicts.
A jury trial has been scheduled to be at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 6 in Philadelphia’s federal court.