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No criminal charges in Prince’s overdose death

April 20, 2018 GMT

Two years after the sudden death of Prince by accidental fentanyl overdose, one of the lingering mysteries surrounding the enigmatic musician concerned how and where he obtained the powerful synthetic opioid that killed him and whether anyone would be held responsible.

On Thursday, law enforcement authorities in Minnesota closed a major part of their investigation, announcing that no one would be criminally charged in the case.

The Carver County attorney, Mark Metz, said in a news conference that Prince died after unknowingly taking counterfeit Vicodin that contained fentanyl, but that there was “no reliable evidence of how Prince obtained” the fatal drug.

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“We have no direct evidence that a specific person provided the fentanyl to Prince,” he said, adding that the investigation uncovered “no sinister motive, intent or conspiracy to murder Prince.”

However, a Minnesota doctor, Michael Schulenberg, who had treated Prince twice not long before his death, has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation for an illegal prescription, his lawyer, Amy Conners, said Thursday. In a search warrant last year, investigators said that Schulenberg had told them he had prescribed an opiate painkiller to the singer in someone else’s name — Kirk Johnson, Prince’s longtime friend, bodyguard and sometime drummer — to protect Prince’s privacy.

Schulenberg admitted no liability as part of the settlement and has maintained he did not prescribe drugs to anyone with the intention they be redirected to Prince. His lawyer said in a statement that Schulenberg “is not a target in any criminal inquiry and there have been no allegations made by the government that Dr. Schulenberg had any role in Prince’s death.”

Metz said Thursday that the pills prescribed by Schulenberg did not lead to Prince’s death.

“The bottom line is we simply do not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime in relation to Prince’s death,” he said.

Prince, who was 57, was found dead in a Paisley Park elevator in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on April 21, 2016, by Johnson and others. A toxicology report, obtained by The Associated Press in March, found high concentrations of fentanyl in the singer’s stomach, liver and blood.

Johnson’s lawyer, F. Clayton Tyler, has said that Johnson did not provide the drugs that caused Prince’s death. Johnson still works at Paisley Park as an estate manager, according to his LinkedIn profile.

— (The New York Times)