Counterfeit pills take center stage in Rocklin manslaughter case

ROCKLIN, Calif. — Counterfeit pills pressed out of fentanyl have come to the forefront of a rare Placer County manslaughter case involving the drug.

A 22-year-old man faces charges and is currently held without bail for allegedly selling the counterfeit pills that killed 17-year-old Zachary Didier, a local highschool student, in 2020.

According to charging documents filed in March and released for the first time by The Update, Bordner is accused of selling counterfeit pills to Didier on two separate days in late December of last year. On the 27th, Didier’s father found him unresponsive in his room. That’s where the involuntary manslaughter charge comes in.

Prosecutors have also levied an allegation of grave bodily injury against Bordner, saying the fentanyl pills caused Didier to develop a brain injury that made him fall into a coma and suffer paralysis, later dying.

“I went to check on Zach – it was later than his normal wake up time,” Zach’s father, Chris, said in a video released in September. “I got within two feet, and I knew something was horribly wrong.”

Zach’s father performed CPR on him to no avail. Bordner was arrested three months later after detectives received Didier’s cell phone.

Didier’s family says he purchased the pills through Snapchat believing they were Percocet, a painkiller made of oxycodone and acetaminophen that is frequently abused and sold illegally. The young man’s death was just the latest in a string of tragedies related to Fentanyl across Northern California.

Fentanyl itself, like other opioids, can be abused recreationally as users build up a tolerance to the deadly narcotic. Frequently in the Sacramento area, though, people die without knowing what they’re taking – and without having that crucial tolerance that allows users suffering from addictions to take it regularly.

Eighteen-year-old George Berry, Mikael Tirado, a 15-year-old named Isaiah whose unresponsive body was posted online – the victim names are countless. In a presentation before the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, the DA’s Office said 140 people died from fentanyl in Sacramento from 2020 to 2021 – a staggering number just below the city’s homicide numbers.

Didier’s death, among others, have become catalysts for change wielded by local prosecutors. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert has made fentanyl deaths a key issue in her campaign for state Attorney General, and operates a “1 Pill Can Kill” program through her office, which hosts events, distributes resources, and supports surviving families including Didier’s

“This epidemic will take an entire community to address,” DA Schubert said in a statement. “With the support and partnership of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, County Executive Ann Edwards and the Department of Health Services — I am confident we will save lives by informing the public about the deadly fentanyl epidemic.”

Prosecutors at the federal level have also gone after local dealers who sell fake pills. 28-year-old Sergey Tkachuk is currently serving a 12-year sentence at a federal prison in Oregon for selling 40 fake Norco pills to George Berry of El Dorado Hills.

Berry took the pills, was hospitalized and revived, and took them again shortly after leaving. The second time, medics weren’t able to save him.

Christopher Kegan Williams, 26, was recently sentenced to 2-and-a-half years behind bars for selling 480 fake oxycodone pills to a law enforcement source. His co-defendant, Mateo Elias Guerrero-Gonzales, is scheduled to be sentenced in April of next year.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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