PROVIDENCE – Two men charged in separate, but related, criminal cases pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court in Providence to fentanyl distribution charges, admitting that their actions contributed to the death of the buyer, a Massachusetts man.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, David Grimaldi, 24 of Coventry, pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl, admitting to the Court that he engaged the assistance of an associate, Robert K. Bell, 24, of Warwick, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to aiding and abetting the distribution of fentanyl, to help him locate a buyer for pills that he wanted to sell.
According to information presented to the Court, based on the arrangements made by Bell, Grimaldi met that buyer in a West Warwick parking lot, where he distributed three pills marked and colored to look like oxycodone tablets. In reality, the pills were laced with fentanyl. Grimaldi admitted that he watched while the buyer swallowed half of one pill. Minutes later, the buyer, Nicholas Bateman, 27, of Rochester, Massachusetts, became unresponsive. He was subsequently pronounced dead later that day at Kent County Hospital. Fentanyl was found in his bloodstream.
At a separate hearing before Chief Judge Smith immediately after Grimaldi’s plea, Bell likewise admitted to his role in arranging for the drug transaction, including the type of drug to be delivered, the price, and the time and location for the meeting.
Both defendants admitted that their criminal actions contributed to the death of the buyer.
Grimaldi and Bell’s guilty pleas are announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, West Warwick Police Chief Colonel Mark A. Knott, and Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England Field Division Brian D. Boyle.