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Teen pleads guilty to her role in synthetic drug death of Tara Fitzgerald


An 18-year-old girl from Woodbury has pleaded guilty to her role in supplying drugs to teenager Tara Fitzgerald, who died after overdosing on a synthetic form of LSD.

The Washington County Attorney Pete Orput announced Friday that Sydney Claire Johnson pleaded guilty to the charge of controlled substance crime in the second degree, while a charge of third degree murder was dismissed.

She was handed a 57-month prison sentence, but won't have to serve it as long as she does not break any laws before she turns 21, the Star Tribune reports. She was also ordered to do 200 hours of community work service and spend 18 weekend in secure custody.

It follows the death of 17-year-old Fitzgerald on January 11 last year, when she was found unresponsive at her home in the south of Woodbury.

Two men, 20-year-old Alexander Clausen and 19-year-old Cole Matenaer, pleaded guilty to third degree murder and sentenced to 6 years in prison and 1 year in jail respectively last month.

Clausen is said to have sold the drug to Matenaer, and it started a series of sales that eventually led to Fitzgerald.

The attorney's office said Johnson bought the drugs in the fall of 2013, who then sold it to a boy, who sold it to another boy, who then sold them to Fitzgerald.

"Synthetic drugs are a significant public safety danger to our community," Orput said in a news release. "Too many young people are purchasing, selling, and ingesting these dangerous drugs without understanding the severe consequences of doing so.

"Throughout this case, law enforcement and my office prioritized the prosecution of the adults who were distributing large amounts of synthetic drugs. At the same time, we held the juveniles involved accountable for their participation in bringing this drug into the community."

The form of the synthetic drug, designed as 25i-NBOMe, has been linked to multiple deaths across the United States, according to CNN.

Synthetic drugs imitate the high of a banned drug, and were created with an altered chemical structure so they could evade restrictions against illegal substances. CNN says that they are so potent that "a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be enough to get high."

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