Woman pleads guilty in fa­tal OD

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

The Times-Tribune - - Briefly - 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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