Fentanyl packages
Fentanyl packages. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

An allegedly “prolific drug dealer in the La Jolla area” who’s accused of providing fentanyl-laced pills to a San Diego woman who overdosed last year pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge.

Joshua Alan Breslow, 52, is charged in the September 2020 death of 49-year-old Sally Ricchiuti.

Prosecutors allege Breslow knowingly provided her and others with doctored pills, despite being aware of the potentially fatal consequences, and that he continued dealing pills even after learning of Ricchiuti’s death. He also allegedly lied to his clients, assuring them that his pills did not contain fentanyl and were tested for their presence.

Bail was set at $1 million at Breslow’s arraignment, with detention arguments taking into account Thursday’s California Supreme Court ruling requiring judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay, in addition to concerns regarding public safety and the risk of flight.

Deputy District Attorney Joel Madero argued Breslow’s conduct met the parameters of the new ruling, alleging “no condition short of detention” could assure Breslow’s return to court or adequately protect the public.

Madero alleged Breslow previously indicated that he would flee to Canada if he posted bail, a risk the prosecutor said was heightened now that he is facing a murder charge. Madero also alleged that while in custody, Breslow conspired with another inmate to burglarize one of his client’s homes, as Breslow believed “this client owed him money, but he wanted more than what was actually owed to him.”

Defense attorney Alicia Freeze quoted the state high court’s Thursday ruling, saying “pretrial detention is ‘impermissible unless no less restrictive conditions of release can adequately vindicate the state’s compelling interest.'”

Freeze argued Breslow could be safely monitored, perhaps with a GPS monitoring bracelet, and noted that he has no prior criminal record and was born and raised in San Diego.

In setting bail, San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren said the facts of the case “suggest there is no less restrictive, non-financial conditions of release that would assure his appearance in court and that would protect the public.”

In addition to the murder charge, Breslow is facing eight felony counts alleging the possession or transportation of controlled substances, including fentanyl, cocaine, MDMA, alprazolam, and OxyContin.