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Man accused of selling fentanyl to La Jolla woman pleads not guilty to murder in her death

Joshua Alan Breslow appears during his arraignment March 26. He is accused of murder and several drug offenses.
(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Joshua Breslow is accused in the September death of Sally Manchester Ricchiuti, daughter of developer Doug Manchester.

A San Diego man accused of dealing drugs — including fentanyl-laced pills that looked like legitimate pharmaceuticals — pleaded not guilty March 26 to a murder charge in the death of a 49-year-old La Jolla woman.

Joshua Alan Breslow, 52, is charged in the September death of Sally Manchester Ricchiuti, a daughter of developer Doug Manchester.

In addition to murder, Breslow faces several counts of possession of drugs for sale — including fentanyl, cocaine, ecstasy, oxycodone and the generic form of Xanax — according to a complaint filed by the San Diego County district attorney’s office.

County Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren set Breslow’s bail at $1 million. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for 25 years to life.

Ricchiuti died on or around Sept. 18, according to the complaint. Her death was investigated as a potential homicide for months, according to the prosecutor handling the case. Prosecutors added the murder charge last week.

Ricchiuti was the daughter of Doug and Betsy Manchester. Doug Manchester is a former owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

According to an obituary that ran in the newspaper, Ricchiuti graduated from La Jolla High School in 1988 and the University of Colorado four years later. She eventually returned to San Diego, married her high school sweetheart and had three children.

In 2010, Ricchiuti was behind a fundraising push for money to overhaul a rundown La Jolla fire station.

Breslow’s arraignment provided little information about Ricchiuti’s death but gave a snapshot of the allegations against the defendant.

Deputy District Attorney Joel Madero called Breslow “a prolific drug dealer” in La Jolla and accused him of providing deadly fentanyl to unwitting buyers, including Ricchiuti.

“She thought she was buying legitimate pharmaceuticals, and in fact Mr. Breslow was selling her fentanyl-laced pills,” Madero said.

The prosecutor said authorities searched Breslow’s home after Ricchiuti died and found more than 600 fentanyl pills, 67 grams of cocaine, 14 grams of ecstasy and 42 alprazolam pills.

He was arrested and booked into county jail but later posted bail. A subsequent search of his home turned up 50 fentanyl and 55 oxycodone pills, the prosecutor said.

Madero said text messages show Breslow had once offered fentanyl to Ricchiuti because he was out of other pills, but she declined. The prosecutor said another woman who bought pills from Breslow — after he bailed out of jail following his first arrest — was “devastated” to learn they contained fentanyl and had “sincerely believed they were legitimate pharmaceuticals.”

Alicia Freeze, one of Breslow’s two attorneys, said after the arraignment that her client and his family are “saddened” by the additional charge, and she noted that her client is a lifelong San Diego resident with no criminal record.

“This is a family man,” Freeze said. “This is devastating to his family.” ◆