ROCKLAND — A Rockland man will serve nine months in jail after admitting to dealing drugs that were connected to the death of another young city resident.

Cody A. Gnosini-Rubenstein Photo from Courier-Gazette

Cody A. Gnosini-Rubenstein, 28, was sentenced in Knox County Court to four years in jail with all but nine months suspended for trafficking in cocaine and fentanyl. He will then be on probation for three years and pay a $400 fine.

He was arrested in July 2018 following an investigation by Rockland police and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency into the death of 27-year-old John Leiter. Leiter died at his home in July 2017 from an overdose of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.

Gnosini-Rubenstein will begin the sentence Dec. 1 to accommodate his work schedule and child care needs.

Assistant Attorney General John Risler said the investigation showed text messages between Leiter and a telephone number used by Gnosini-Rubenstein.

An affidavit filed by police in court found that Rubenstein was the last person Leiter was in contact with by phone. Leiter had asked Rubenstein for drugs and repeatedly asked where he was as he waited for delivery.

The drug transaction occurred the night of July 24, and Leiter was found dead early the following morning.

The affidavit also says a woman reported that she had heard that Rubenstein had sold the drugs to the victim. Risler said the state was not able to prove that the drugs that led to Leiter’s death were the same as those provided by Gnosini-Rubenstein.

Leiter’s sister addressed Justice Bruce Mallonee during the hearing, in a statement that the judge later called “beautiful and eloquent.”

Melissa Fearon Leiter said when she was growing up in Rockland, it was easy to get drugs, and 16 years later, nothing has changed.

“Drug addiction is a disease that is consuming the community,” she said.

She said she has attended funerals not only for her brother, but for friends who have died from drug overdoses.

“I know I will be going to more funerals,” she said.

She said a tough sentence would send a message to people selling drugs, and spoke directly to Gnosini-Rubenstein and wished him well.

“The universe gave you a second chance. My brother won’t get that chance,” she said.

Mallonee said he wrestles with drug sentences, asking himself whether it is worse when people from out of state come into a community and deal drugs or when a local person is providing them.

“What’s worse, poisoning a stranger or people you know?” he asked.

He also said that in these cases it is not only a crime but a medical problem, with people with addictions selling drugs.

Gnosini-Rubenstein did not speak at the hearing.

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