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Reckless homicide charge filed in fentanyl overdose case

A Duluth man is accused of supplying the drugs, which moved through two middle men before reaching the victim.

Douglas County, Wis., Courtroom
Douglas County Circuit Court, Superior, Wisconsin. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

A Duluth man serving a prison sentence in Minnesota for drug-related crimes has been charged in Douglas County Circuit Court for allegedly supplying the fentanyl-laced heroin that led to the death of a Carlton County man in 2018.

Joshua John Wilding, 35, faces one count of party to first-degree reckless homicide. An arrest warrant was issued for Wilding at the same time the complaint was filed. He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Minnesota after being convicted in 2018 of one count of first-degree sale of heroin and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to online court records.

The Douglas County charge involves the February 2018 death of a Carlton County man from the effects of fentanyl. A synthetic drug, fentanyl is often mixed with heroin to increase the potency of the drug and can produce death at much smaller concentrations than heroin.

Investigators used cellphone calls and text messages to identify Trevor Hartling as the person who sold the fentanyl-laced heroin to the Carlton County man. Hartling told investigators he received the drugs from Jonathan Polaski of Superior and sold them to support his own habit.

Polaski told investigators that the heroin he received and distributed between December 2017 and May 2018 came from Wilding, according to the criminal complaint. Polaski reported he did not know that the heroin he received from Wilding at the time contained fentanyl, but he knew that Wilding provided “good” heroin.

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Joshua Wilding.jpg
Joshua Wilding

Wilding was arrested and prosecuted in Duluth for crimes related to the distribution of drugs, including heroin. He admitted to Duluth investigators that he sold heroin containing fentanyl in Duluth and Superior in February 2018, and confirmed that Polaski was one of the people he sold to, the criminal complaint said. Wilding reportedly learned after he was sent to drug treatment in May 2018 that the heroin he had been distributing and using contained high amounts of fentanyl.

If convicted, Wilding faces up to 40 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000. He has not yet made his initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court.

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