The Times-Tribune

Woman pleads guilty in fatal OD

21-year-old faces prison time for supplying drugs that killed friend.

- BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER STAFF WRITER

A Hawley woman pleaded guilty Monday to supplying heroin that led to the overdose death of her friend.

Brittany Ann Banscher, 21, entered the plea during a brief hearing before U.S. District Judge James Munley.

Ms. Banscher was charged in September with distributi­on of a controlled substance in connection with the Sept. 4, 2015, fatal overdose of Amanda LoConte, 21, of Greeley. She faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison, up to a maximum of life in prison for the guilty plea.

In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski said police determined Ms. Banscher supplied the drugs after reviewing Facebook posts and text messages between Ms. LoConte and Ms. Banscher. Those posts allowed police to track down another woman who was with Ms. LoConte when she met Ms. Banscher at an area restaurant to obtain the drugs. She later overdosed at a home on Birch Street in Scranton.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms. Banscher’s attorney, Michael Weinstein, said the case is one of the most heartbreak­ing he has ever handled. Ms. Banscher and Ms. LoConte were friends, he said, and she is devastated that her actions caused Ms. LoConte’s death.

“She is beside herself,” he said. “She is a 21-year-old girl who’s had a tough life and now she lost her absolute best friend through her actions.”

Ms. LoConte’s mother, Cheryl, said she’s struggling with her feelings. Her daughter and Ms. Banscher were close friends growing up. She doesn’t know yet if she can forgive her.

“I feel sorry for the girl that I knew at one time. This obviously isn’t the girl I knew. If she was my daughter’s true friend, she would not have sold her drugs,” she said.

Judge Munley ordered a presentenc­ing investigat­ion. Sentencing is scheduled for March 27 at 10:30 a.m. Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamr­ock.com, @tmbesecker­TT on Twitter

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