HARRISBURG — On Friday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced felony charges against two Clarion County women for allegedly delivering fentanyl to a man who died of an overdose.
The defendants were charged with drug delivery resulting in death. It’s a charge the Office of Attorney General is using to confront drug dealing amidst the opioid epidemic raging across the Commonwealth.
Jennifer Lorraine Best, 58, of Shippenville and Elva Marie Confer, 41, currently in Muncy State Prison on unrelated charges, were charged Friday by the Pennsylvania State Police and Office of Attorney General with drug delivery resulting in death, delivery of a controlled substance (fentanyl) and possession with intent to deliver.
“If you sell drugs and someone dies as a result, you’re facing a felony and jail,” Shapiro said. “We’re using every tool at our disposal to hold drug dealers accountable for the devastation and deaths they’re causing in communities across Pennsylvania.”
The Office of Attorney General worked closely with the Pennsylvania State Police and Clarion County District Attorney’s Office on this case and brought it before a statewide investigating grand jury, which heard testimony, reviewed evidence and recommended the charges against Best and Confer.
Donald Leroy Brown, 35, of Clarion was found dead in his home April 2, 2016. In the days before his death, Brown went to a pain clinic, where he was denied prescriptions, according to the AG’s Office.
Brown called Confer and told her he needed fentanyl patches. The day before Brown died, Confer allegedly confirmed to a witness that she provided Brown with three fentanyl patches that she had bought from Best.
The toxicology report revealed Brown died of a fatal fentanyl overdose.
Investigators discovered a fentanyl patch at Confer’s residence that had been cut into pieces, a common way for drug users to abuse the patch form of fentanyl.
The investigation also uncovered pharmacy records that showed Best filled two prescriptions for 10 fentanyl patches in the month prior to Brown’s death.
“The opioid painkiller involved in this case is one of the most powerful ever made available by prescription,” said Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron. “The diversion of these powerful drugs from their intended use [can] far too often lead to tragic, unnecessary deaths like this one.”
“Every overdose death is treated as a possible homicide,” said Lieutenant Christopher J. Neal, criminal investigations section commander of the Pennsylvania State Police.
“Because the opioid crisis has no borders, impacting rural and metropolitan communities, the collective resources of law enforcement are necessary to ensure the persons responsible for distributing these toxic drugs are brought to justice.”
Senior Deputy Attorney General Marnie Sheehan-Balchon will prosecute the cases with the assistance of Aaron. Since January, the Attorney General’s Office has filed or prosecuted drug delivery resulting in death charges in six cases, including Friday’s charges.
Further use of this statute, which has been Pennsylvania law since 2011, is anticipated.
Shapiro praised the law enforcement cooperation leading to the charges. “Two more drug dealers are off our streets thanks to the collaboration of our Office, Clarion District Attorney Aaron and the Pennsylvania State Police. We’re united in seeking justice, getting this poison off our streets and working together to make every Pennsylvania community safer.”