Crime & Courts

Woodstock man sentenced to prison in connection with McHenry man's overdose death

Christopher Birong, 46, Woodstock
Christopher Birong, 46, Woodstock

A 46-year-old Woodstock man was sentenced to prison Monday after pleading guilty to delivering the dose of heroin that police said killed a McHenry man.

Christopher Birong accepted an offer from the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office Monday and pleaded guilty to drug-induced homicide in connection with the death of 43-year-old Shawn A. Ackerman.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather accepted Birong’s plea and sentenced him to seven years in prison. In exchange for the man’s guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed additional charges, including possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. If the case had gone to trial and Birong were found guilty of drug-induced homicide, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison.

The McHenry Police Department and McHenry Township Fire Protection District responded July 10 to a rescue call in the 3100 block of Lincoln Road for an unresponsive man, according to a news release.

When first responders arrived, they found Ackerman dead in the bathroom of his home, court records show. Autopsy results confirmed Ackerman had heroin and fentanyl in his system, according to the release.

Fentanyl is potent, synthetic opioid that can exaggerate the effects of heroin.

In October, McHenry police arrested Birong of the 2100 block of Willow Brook Drive, and another man, 45-year-old Timothy Colby, of the 1500 block of West May Avenue, McHenry, in connection with Ackerman’s death.

Police searched Ackerman’s phone and found text messages arranging a drug deal with a person named “Timmy,” according to a motion prosecutors filed Oct. 24. Officers traced the phone number to Colby, who they learned was an “associate” of Birong, the motion stated.

As part of a separate police investigation, a GPS tracking device had been attached to Birong’s vehicle. Both men were inside the car when police arrested them Oct. 23, according to the motion.

During police interviews, they each admitted to having a part in delivering heroin to Ackerman, prosecutors wrote in their motion.

Colby has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is expected to make a court appearance May 2.

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