Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A San Diego man was sentenced Monday to more than 15 years in prison for distributing fentanyl, some of which caused the fatal overdose of a former player for the San Diego Old Aztecs Rugby Football Club.

Jeffrey Alden Blair, 34, pleaded guilty last year to one count of distribution of fentanyl for dealing what prosecutors said was fentanyl that led to the death of 45-year-old Derrick Hotchkiss in his San Diego home on April 11, 2019.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Blair was arrested in a storage unit in which agents found more than 500 grams of fentanyl and he told investigators he was aware fentanyl was potentially deadly.

“This defendant dealt in more than drugs. He dealt in death,” said John W. Callery, Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Co-defendants Christopher Glenn Emison, 33, of El Cajon, and Andrew Gossai, 33, of San Diego, have also pleaded guilty to their roles in supplying Hotchkiss with fentanyl. Emison was sentenced last year to 14 years in prison, while Gossai awaits sentencing later this month.

Prosecutors say Hotchkiss had text messages on his phone indicating Emison sold him fentanyl the night before his death.

Shortly after Hotchkiss’ death, investigators searched Emison’s home and vehicle and seized fentanyl, heroin residue, firearms, ammunition and other items indicating drug sales.

Prosecutors say Emison admitted to knowing the fentanyl was dangerous and apparently sent text messages to Hotchkiss to warn him of the drug’s strength but never received a response.

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