Victim’s family praises dealer charge

050515, Brockton, - Paige Lopes, in an undated family photo.
050515, Brockton, – Paige Lopes, in an undated family photo.
Photo courtesy Jessica Dio

The Boston Herald
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

by: Colneth Smiley, Jr.

The manslaughter charges against an accused drug dealer in a Wareham mother’s overdose death is a new direction in the state’s battle against opioid addiction and could serve as a deterrent to other offenders, the woman’s family and Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said.

“If you’re a heroin dealer, it’s likely you had a client that died from an overdose.  If you get arrested selling heroin then, yes, you should automatically be charged with manslaughter,” said Benjamin Dio, brother-in-law of Paige Lopes, 25, who was found dead Feb. 21 of a heroin overdose.

Steven D. Foss, 33, of Wareham is accused of selling Lopes, 25, of Wareham, $80 worth of heroin, which she ingested, according to prosecutors.

Foss pleaded not guilty yesterday to manslaughter, witness intimidation, assault and battery, possession, and five counts of distribution.  He was ordered held on $50,000 bail.

Cruz called the criminal prosecution for a drug death “unique”.

“Substance abuse issues are haunting our neighborhoods,” Cruz said.  “We need to fight this problem on all levels in order to send a strong message and take back our communities.”

Lopes’ family said she moved from Worcester to Wareham to recover from her addiction for the sake of her 2-year-old son.

“Paige was post 90 days of sobriety when it happened.  It was a struggle for her, but you would never have guessed she was a heroin user.  She was happy and she was normal,” said Dio, 36, whose wife, Jessica, is Lopes’ older sister.

Dio said after Lopes’ death, the family spoke at a forum held by Gov. Charlie Baker’s opioid task force in Worcester.

“The commonwealth is doing the best they can to wrap their hands around this,” Dio said.  “Opioid addiction is in our neighborhoods, the nice homes, everywhere.  Paige was loving and kind.  She was a good mom to her son, that’s why she was working hard towards recovery.  You would never have guessed she was a heroin user.  Her son feels it, he knows (of her death), but everyone around him stays positive.”

“We have no idea who he was,” Dio said of his sister-in-law’s accused assailant.  “He looked just like another slimy drug dealer.  I just hope they continue to get these people off the streets.  It would be great to send other drug dealers a message through this.  Locking up the drug dealers isn’t going to stop the problem, but it’s a good place to start.