Oregon man, facing drug charges after string of overdoses in Unalaska, dies in custody

Police with the Unalaska Department of Public Safety are working the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice on the case. The handgun incident was first reported to adults on Aug. 23. (Berett Wilber/KUCB)

An Oregon man accused of distributing drugs after a series of overdoses in Unalaska in 2019 has died in prison.

Federal inmate Chopper Ellingsworth was pronounced dead at the Anchorage Correctional Complex last week, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Corrections. His death is the second death to take place in DOC custody this year.

Ellingsworth hadn’t been sentenced, but had been in custody since November of 2019.  He was charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances. 

After four overdoses on the island in the fall of that year, one of which was fatal, investigators found a shipment of various drugs at a suspected dealer’s home in Unalaska, which the dealer later said came from Ellingsworth and a man named Michael Hindman in Gresham, Ore. 

Ellingsworth and Hindman both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and methamphetamine through the U.S. Postal Service after they were taken into custody. 

Ellingsworth was 58. His death is not COVID-19-related and no foul play is suspected, the statement said. His next of kin have been notified.

Because there is no suspected foul play, the Department of Justice will not continue with its investigation into Ellingsworth’s death, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal Rochelle Liedike. Liedike said his death will be reviewed by the Alaska State Troopers and the Medical Examiner’s Office.

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