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Man gets probation for selling drugs that killed Ruzicka's son

Published February 15, 2012 12:20 pm

Courts • Victim's father says punishment falls short of crime.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • The man who sold the heroin that killed the son of conservative activist Gayle Ruzicka will serve three years' probation.

Fourth District Judge Claudia Laycock also ordered Gareth Bozung, 31, to serve a year with a GPS-monitoring ankle bracelet, based on his progress in drug rehabilitation.

"I am going to let you keep your life," Laycock told Bozung on Wednesday. "Don't screw it up."

A presentencing report recommended probation and 300 hours of community service. Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson said the community service was a "slap in the face" to Ruzicka's loved ones and pushed for a year in the county jail.

The Ruzicka family did not attend Wednesday's sentencing. Don Ruzicka, Gayle Ruzicka's husband, called the GPS monitoring "ludicrous."

"We're sending a message to people who break the law that there is no accountability," Don Ruzicka said. The judge should have taken into account, he added, that Bozung provided his 26-year-old son, Josh Ruzicka, with the drugs that caused his death.

Thomas Means, Bozung's attorney, said Bozung provided only heroin and that traces of cocaine were found in the victim's body.

Bozung expressed remorse for selling the drugs that killed Josh Ruzicka.

"It was the most traumatic event in my life," Bozung tearfully told Laycock. "I have lost 20 friends to addiction, and I should have died myself."

Bozung's employer, Teresa Pruitt of Toscano Italian Bistro, and his probation officer said the defendant has cleaned up his life and was an honest, trusted employee.

Johnson said he was satisfied that Laycock at least agreed to a year of GPS monitoring.

In December, Bozung pleaded guilty to a single count of providing illegal drugs. The charge was enhanced to a first-degree felony because of his prior convictions.

Bozung sold Josh Ruzicka a balloon of heroin in March 2007, and had shot "speedballs" — a mixture of heroin, cocaine and morphine — when Ruzicka overdosed.

dmeyers@sltrib.com

Twitter: @donaldwmeyers