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Woman pleads guilty in Boonsboro teen's drug death

Could face life in prison for supplying lethal drugs

Could face life in prison for supplying lethal drugs

January 25, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

BALTIMORE - A former Boonsboro woman pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Baltimore to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in the death of a Boonsboro teenager last summer, according to Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

Kathleen Ann Harris, 39, of Olney, Md., faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to a press release from Rosenstein's office.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has not scheduled a date for sentencing.

The investigation that began in July 2007 culminated in a charge that is not common, Kyle Williamson, resident agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration in Hagerstown, said Thursday.

"It's a rare charge - conspiracy to distribute drugs that result in death," he said. "We took this investigation on because a child died."

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The 17-year-old Boonsboro High School student died July 26, 2007.

According to the statement of facts to which the prosecution and defense stipulated under the plea agreement, Harris and a co-conspirator began selling prescription drugs, including methadone and various brands of oxycodone and hydrocodone, in 2006.

Harris was able to obtain the drugs because she had medical problems that allowed her to get prescriptions from physicians who were unaware that she intended to sell the drugs, according to the statement of facts.

Among the customers of Harris and her co-conspirator were a group of high school students in Western Maryland.

For about six months, Harris' co-conspirator sold the drugs he obtained from Harris to the students and other customers, the statement of facts alleges.

On July 25, 2007, Harris and her co-conspirator went to one student's home to sell drugs and, while there, drank alcohol, according to the statement of facts.

Harris handed the student a quantity of methadone pills from her purse and received cash from the student, who died in bed that night or the following day, according to the statement of facts.

According to the medical examiner's report, the student died of methadone and alcohol intoxication.

The alleged distribution had a big impact in the Hagerstown, Boonsboro and Smithsburg areas, Williamson was quoted as saying in published reports in October.

The man identified in the statement of facts as the alleged co-conspirator, Robert Carroll Eichelberger, 36, of Funkstown, is expected to be in court in April. He was indicted in September on drug charges.

If convicted, Eichelberger also faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of two additional distribution counts.

Rosenstein credited the Drug Enforcement Administration, Maryland State Police, Washington County Narcotics Task Force and Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore and his office for their investigative work.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Harding prosecuted the case.

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