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Posted on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Trial set for man accused of supplying heroin that led to overdose death

By John Counts


Nick Belanger

Courtesy of MLive

A 22-year-old Ann Arbor man accused of supplying the heroin that led to the overdose death of a Father Gabriel Richard High School hockey coach is set to go on trial in September.

Brendan Lathrop is accused of providing the drugs that led to the death of Nick Belanger, 26, in January, police siad. Belanger was found dead in his car outside of Lathrop’s residence in the Park Place Apartments on Jan. 22, police said.

A trail date of Sept. 17 was set for Lathrop, during a pretrial hearing in Washtenaw County Trial Court Tuesday. There will be a final pretrial hearing Aug. 28

Lathrup is charged with delivery of a controlled substance causing death and with delivery of a controlled substance less than 50 grams. If convicted he could face life in prison.

Lathrop remains lodged in the Washtenaw County Jail.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Tragic all the way around! Lathrop did not make the decision for Belanger to buy the drugs or to use them Belanger did that all on his own. Watch out folks that sell cigarettes and alcohol when someone dies from cancer or liver disease you could be in jail for life!


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Not a chance: You forget that businesses have lobbying power and do protect themselves from just about any kind of liability. Our system of laws is not completely rational and therefore not entirely honest when it comes to either equal protection or equal prosecutions. The age restrictions on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages: are a good example of this kind of irrationality and dishonesty. In practice, the state sends out people to trap store clerks into selling these restricted items to "underage buyers." Then, the employer AND the state both levy penalties ON the clerk who is nothing but a victim of a scam. If it's a shop owner who gets duped: then and only then do the penalties fall on the right person. Also - this program has been in place for a very long time but is at a plateau in terms of its success rate. You are right though: the manufacturers and distributors of illegal drugs would not exist if not for there being a strong market for their products in the first place. So the ultimate solution is to eliminate the market. If society really wanted the government to eliminate the market: they'd have the government start producing a flood of fatally toxic versions of all of the illegal drugs and distribute them all at the same time across the country. In a matter of days, we'd be virtually free of drug users. But of course, we lack the will to do that.


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

It's about zero tolerance folks. Actions and decisions have consequences when it comes to decisions involving high risk illegal drugs. So the dealer gets pounded because he sold some high potency heroin to an addicted middle class male who apparently was "a pillar of the community" - so what? They both deserve the consequences of their recklessness. I for one will never make excuses for or nit-pick over legal niceties on behalf of those involved in drug-selling or drug-using. These people all exclude themselves from the rules which the rest of us follow. They are by definition outlaws and, because of the lousy lifestyle they promote, they are a danger to our society, a danger especially to the young.

Mike D.

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

This is a tragic story all the way around, but putting someone away for life for small-scale drug dealing doesn't make sense.


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 4:52 a.m.

R.I.P. Nick ! I do hope that Brendan will get fair trial. Charge him for selling drugs, but not for the cause of Nick's death.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

Wait a sec here, did the dealer force the coach to take the heroin? Mr Lathrop needs to be punished for dealing heroin, but how is he responsible for an overdose by someone he sold drugs to? The coach was a junkie and he overdosed. It's tragic, but it's not the dealer's fault. If the dealer is responsible for someone's OD and death that he sold drugs to, then clerks at Meijer's who sell cigarettes to customers who subsequently die of lung cancer are responsible for their deaths too. Is Kroger's responsible for the death of someone who drinks too much beer that they bought from Kroger's and then had a fatal car accident due to drunk driving? Didn't Belanger purchase the heroin on his own? Did the dealer force him to purchase it or use it? I'm not saying there should be no punishment for dealing heroin, but it has nothing to do with an overdose.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

I don't get these prosecutions at all. Why don't they put the people who actually process the poppies that made this heroin on trial? Oh thats right, they might make some of that legal morphine you can get at the hospital.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

I suspect it's more like there are too many people making a ton of money on the product. And they can use that money to wield power. If the right people turn their head the other way....the traffic is unseen.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

JRA, In the original article it states he was charged with "OVERDOSE" death of the other young man and that is an issue. The definition of "overdose" will no doubt be questioned in a trial. The potency of the drug may play into the trial or it may not. There are dangers in using all drugs and especially drug alcohol because it is relatively cheap and socially encouraged. Regardless, I find it morally wrong to ask us as citizens to put a 22 year old man in prison for life for supplying a drug to a 26 yr old young man.

Mike D.

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : noon

For the first time, I agree with you.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Cash, your thoughts are flawed in that there is not a "normal" amount of heroin considered safe for use. That is one of the problems with illeagal drugs, there potency varies widely. A "dose" that could be considered "normal" with one "batch" of heroin, could be deadly on another occasion, depending on the potenct!


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

RIP Nick. You were loved by all.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 11:33 a.m.

As horrible as the result is, did the accused tell the deceased to overdose? I am guessing here that the OVERDOSE caused the death. If the deceased had used a "normal" amount he would have gone to work the next day and no one would be the wiser. That's my assumption. I assume the series of events leading up to his death will come out in the trial. But my opinion for what it's worth, a life sentence should be reserved for someone who INTENDED to cause death or great bodily harm, and something less for someone whose poor judgment caused death. I hope it's a fair trial.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

I agree with you, based on your assumptions, but your assumptions are incorrect. Allegedly, Nick was not the one who dosed himself at all, though he may have agreed to it, trusting that person. Should he have died for trusting someone that didn't give a damn? Nick was a truly good person, and I guess expected that that was the norm; that everyone was as pure of heart as himself and his family were.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

You mean to say they had a junkie for a coach and no one noticed?Still this man diserves to be punished for selling drugs. What about the sellers of alchohol? How many times are they prosecuted?


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

NO, they did NOT have a "junkie" for a coach. That was a really insensitive thing to say, and so untrue. Nick had a brief history of addiction, most likely to prescription medications, and promptly sought treatment in October of 2011, where he most likely attended an inpatient clinic for about a week, and then continued with an outpatient program which he was still attending at the time of his death. He probably had to alerted his employers of the reason for his week long absence, and I'm sure they were supportive. I only met Nick a few times, and I am still sure he would never ever cause damage to his team or it's members by letting his unfortunate addiction affect his job. I mean I'm sure he was more stressed, but I'm sure he didn't come to work high or hung over all the time, and I know he was an amazing coach. I'm sure if he had let it affect his job, someone would have noticed and he would have been fired. I know he was an extremely caring individual, and from all counts he loved his kids too much to let them see him in a bad condition. Addiction can happen to anyone, and it isn't fair to blame those who get addicted, especially if they seek treatment and care enough to be so strong during there recovery. Nick had been clean up until that night, and no knows of him using heroin before that night. What exactly happened in those hours between when Nick left his real friends and when he died, only a few people know and they are still holding something back.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Nobody forced Belanger and made him seek out or use the heroin. Charging the dealer so harshly is cruel and unusual, and these charges should be dropped.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

so you would rather have a dealer selling Heroin that is laced with whatever chemical that could potentially kill people for their poor decisions? people have the right to learn from their mistakes. Just as the dealer (whom graduated from a very nice Hugh School) will be put on trial for his mistake of selling dope rather than getting a real job!