Charge: Coon Rapids liquor store owner sold drugs that killed man

A Coon Rapids liquor store owner sold potent opioids out of his business that sent a man into a fatal overdose hours later, according to prosecutors.

John L. Varhol, 58, was charged in Anoka County District Court last week with third-degree murder in connection with the death in May of 34-year-old Ryan N. Weber, of Blaine.

Varhol, of Coon Rapids, was charged by summons and awaits a Jan. 15 court date. Messages were left with him seeking his response to the allegations.

State records show that the store’s liquor license was canceled on Oct. 22, five months after Varhol allegedly sold the drugs that killed Weber. The store now operates under new ownership.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police were alerted about 2:40 p.m. on May 22 to Varhol having a seizure at Coon Rapids Liquor on Foley Boulevard near Northdale Boulevard.

Emergency workers aided Varhol and put him in an ambulance, where he went into cardiac arrest. He was revived and taken to nearby Mercy Hospital.

An officer found two prescription bottles with 112 oxycodone pills and 56 fentanyl pills in Varhol’s pocket.

That same night, police answered a call about an overdose at a home about a mile south of the liquor store in the 10400 block of Foley Boulevard. Officers located a 31-year-old resident of the home semiconscious and another, Weber, not breathing.

Medical personnel tended to Weber, but he died at the scene. Officers located a fentanyl pill in his pants pocket. The other resident survived.

The resident who survived told law enforcement that he and a friend went to Coon Rapids Liquor earlier in the day and bought pills from the store owner. He said he and Weber met up, crushed the fentanyl pills and snorted them.

Police reviewed store surveillance and saw a man bring pills to Varhol, who tallied the delivery and then paid the man. Surveillance images soon showed Varhol selling pills to the resident in the store parking lot.

Varhol is also seen on store video crushing pills and snorting them in his office about five minutes before he was stricken.

The County Attorney’s Office said Monday that it has been presented with no other cases in connection with Varhol’s prosecution.

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