Report: Catt. Co. Inmate Died From Meth, Fentanyl OD
No corrective actions are being recommended after an incarcerated 35-year-old Olean man died from a “multidrug intoxication” of methamphetamine and fentanyl in May 2021 in the Cattaraugus County Jail.
In what was termed an “accidental overdose,” details regarding the death of Franklin Chase were outlined in a recently released report from the state Commission of Correction.
Chase was found not breathing and blue in the face by jail staff the night of May 2, 2021. Officers attached an automated external defibrillator and performed CPR, but the Olean man was later pronounced dead.
The Medical Review Board — which investigates deaths in New York’s correctional facilities and reports to the state Commission of Correction — confirmed that Chase had “obtained and used contraband drugs from another individual while incarcerated, which caused his fatal overdose.”
According to the five-page report, portions of which are redacted, Chase had been arrested by Olean police on several charges, including burglary and criminal mischief. He was admitted to the Cattaraugus County Jail on Aug. 8, 2020.
During his incarceration, additional burglary charges were filed against him out of Olean and the town of Allegany.
Following his death, detectives with the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office questioned other inmates and searched Chase’s cell. Police located several pieces of paper, one of which had the letters “DK” and five numbers written on it.
A review of video of the jail’s housing unit from May 2, 2021, showed that an inmate had picked up a newspaper inside the cell of another inmate — identified in the report as “D.K.” but later determined to be Daniel P. Klein — and delivering it to Chase’s cell. About 20 minutes later, an officer completed a supervisory round before going on break. When the officer returned, Chase was found unresponsive.
Detectives also reviewed recorded jailhouse phone calls from Chase. On the morning of May 2, he called a relative seeking $200 for items such as magazines and books.
Later on that day, Chase called again and requested that the money be given to another relative. He also gave the name of an account, identified in the report as having the same DK initials and five numbers. The relative later confirmed the deposit had been made.
In June 2021, seven felony charges were filed against Klein in connection to Chase’s death: manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, criminal possession and criminal sale of a controlled substance and three counts of promoting prison contraband.
Manslaughter, the most serious of the charges, carries a sentence up to 15 years in state prison.
Klein pleaded guilty on Feb. 28, 2022, to a single count of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. He was sentenced in April 2022 to 1 1/2 years in prison in addition to two years of post-release supervision.
Lori Rieman, Cattaraugus County district attorney, said charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide require proving there was intent to cause someone’s death. She said that was not present in the case.
It’s not clear how Klein, while an inmate at the jail, may have obtained the narcotics later taken by Chase. The Olean Times Herald, citing Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb, reported that it’s believed Klein smuggled the drugs into the jail.
A search of Klein’s cell after Chase’s death turned up three “bundles” later confirmed to contain fentanyl.
On May 5, 2021, three days after Chase died, Klein was taken to Olean General Hospital for an evaluation after doctors found what appeared to be an unknown substance concealed inside him. However, a search of the inmate’s clothing, hospital room, bed and CT room turned up no contraband.
The report states: “A period of time had lapsed between the initial CT (Klein) had and when the object was identified whereby it is presumed that (Klein) had removed the object and disposed of it without supervision officers taking notice.”
According to state inmate records, Klein is serving his sentence at the Collins Correctional Facility.