.Corralitos Drug Dealer Sentenced to Prison

Michael Russell gets 10 years for sexual assault, possession of illegal drugs; parents of 16-year-old who overdosed file wrongful death suit

A man who provided illegal drugs to two female victims, 16 and 17, and committed sex offenses against them, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in state prison, Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell announced.

The parents of Emma Lace Price, the 16-year-old who was found dead of an overdose at Michael James Russell’s Corralitos residence on Nov. 12, 2021 with four different narcotics in her system, have additionally filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Russell and his parents. The case will be heard in March.  

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s investigators are being criticized for not considering Price’s death suspicious at first, and for treating it as merely an overdose.

Investigators discovered that, in the days leading up to her death, she had been getting illegal narcotics from multiple dealers, including Russell.

According to court documents, Russell met Price about a month before her death, and the two began a sexual relationship, which involved him giving Price Percocet laced with Fentanyl. Once she entered an unresponsive state, the lawsuit further alleges he failed to give her the medical attention she needed.

Court documents show that Russell instead called a friend, and removed Price’s clothes and put her in a cold shower. He and the friend then injected her with Narcan, and finally called 911 after 30 minutes.

Still, Rosell said that there was insufficient evidence to hold him responsible for her death. 

“This was an incredibly tragic case which has had a devastating impact on (the victim’s) family, her loved ones, and many other concerned members of the community,” Rosell stated in a press release. “While nothing can bring back their daughter, nor does this sentence represent the pain and trauma of their loss, our office hopes this disposition will further protect the public by ensuring a defendant who takes advantage of underage victims is held accountable for his crimes.”

Russell, 24, will have to register as a sex offender upon his release.


  1. This was tragic. Period. It is easy to fall into drugs, I was sober since 1980 and when my mom died, she had been on Fentanyl, she had two high potency pills left after she died. I had the urge to try one, once a addict, always one, and so I popped it into my mouth, but I heard a scream inside me, no spit it out, you do not know the drug nor the potency and I spit it out. That one second, it could have gone down the gullet and I might have died, my system was so clean and it was a drug I had never done. I was greatly saddened when the story showed up on the news. Drugs aint what they used to be, pot, LSD, some srooms, now its crack, meth and this trash. We have to help our children eschew drugs, but it is a up hill battle.

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  2. Re: “This was tragic. Period…” (above)
    I write from personal and intimate experience of this matter and murder since almost the moment it occurred, as members of my family were very close friends of the victim.
    Thank you, Good Times/Todd Guild for your very comprehensive article and coverage of this most heinous of crimes against our children and entire Monterey Bay Community, state, and Nation!
    Your excellent coverage of this is, I believe, unique, and I have not seen it anywhere else.
    Is this activity and these crimes being covered up and kept from us by both our media outlets and our local oath sworn electeds, starting at the very top?

    Has anybody ever heard (or seen in print?) any of our OATH SWORN Santa Cruz/Monterey County electeds, other than perhaps DA Jeff Rosell but starting with jimmy Panetta, …
    ever utter either the word “fentanyl” or “federal RICO law” (google it)?

    … and therein lies both the problem and the tragedy, with regretfully much more certainly to come.

    How and why did (and still do to this moment!) this fentanyl counterfeit Rx percoset pain pill (a small “oxycontin” mixed w/ acetaminophen) get here in the first place?
    Smuggled illegally from China via manufacture in/by Mexico Cartel perpetrators’ much more lucrative illegal human trafficking, which is both condoned and so successfully promoted by our local Sanctuary law and policies across our open southern border and elsewhere here to the Monterey Bay to most inexpensively support it’s largest industries of ag and tourism?
    So successfully, in fact, that according to John Laird in a conversation with me at a Zmudowski Beach meeting in late 2021, now State Senator Laird confirmed with me that our Monterey Bay Region has the largest percentage of undocumented foreign (and also mostly human trafficked?) workers/immigrants to citizen/documented “legal” population OF ANYPLACE IN OUR NATION!
    … with the complicity of who and what else?
    aka “an ongoing organized transnational criminal conspiracy and billions dollar annually business enterprise …

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