La Jolla Overdose death
Sally Manchester Ricchiuti. Photo credit:

A man who sold fentanyl-laced pills that caused the death of a La Jolla woman – the daughter of a prominent San Diegan – was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in state prison.

Joshua Alan Breslow, 54, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and drug possession charges for providing pills that led to the Sept. 18, 2020, death of Sally Manchester Ricchiuti, 49.

Her father is developer and former San Diego Union-Tribune owner Doug Manchester.

Prosecutors alleged that Breslow, who was previously charged with murder in the case, provided Ricchiuti and others with doctored pills, despite being aware of the potentially fatal consequences.

Deputy District Attorney Joel Madero said that after Breslow’s arrest in connection with Ricchiuti’s death, he continued dealing pills while out on bail.

The prosecutor also alleged that Breslow falsely assured his customers that he had tested his pills to ensure they didn’t contain fentanyl and reached out to a source in order to secure doctored lab results.

In a statement at his sentencing hearing, Breslow called the victim “one of my best and closest friends” and said “not a day goes by when I don’t feel contrition.”

Though he said the past two years he has spent in jail have been “grueling” and a “brutal experience,” Breslow said, “I deserve it.” Breslow apologized to the victim’s family and said he plans to speak publicly about the dangers of opioid abuse when he is released.

Doug Manchester, who said his daughter “remains with us each and every day,” told Breslow, “Josh, I appreciate very much your reaching out.”

However, Manchester said he had “a tough time with all of this, especially when Sally was taken from us and you were arrested and went out on bail and you repeatedly distributed deadly fentanyl to others.”

He told Breslow that the family was “very happy that you will not be able to do that for a very, very long time.”

Richhiuti’s mother, Betsy Manchester, asked Breslow whether he’d considered the ramifications of selling a dangerous and deadly substance to someone he called a friend.

“You not only took her life. You betrayed her trust and her vulnerability as a friend and left us all with deeply wounded hearts,” she said.

Molly Ricchiuti, the victim’s eldest daughter, called her mother “my best friend” and “a beautiful, vivacious soul lost to a world that so desperately needs her type of spirit.”

Through her work as an emergency room nurse, Ricchiuti said she sees addiction on a daily basis and hoped her mother’s story “serves as a stepping stone to legislation changing the way our legal and healthcare systems treat addiction and mental illness.”

Ricchuiti told Breslow, “I’m sorry the world chewed you up and spit you out, making it so you had to deal drugs to survive.” Because she said her mother “believed in forgiveness,” Ricchiuti said, “For her sake, I forgive you.”

– City News Service