Catherine Marie Quashnock, 28, of Brockway pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four to 11 years in SCI-Muncy by President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman Tuesday at colloquy/sentencing court.
Quashnock pleaded guilty to dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, a felony of the first degree; possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, an ungraded felony, two counts; criminal use of a communication facility, felony of the third degree; and involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor of the first degree.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on May 1, 2019, a male and Jennifer Vionito, 25, overdosed on what they thought was heroin but the substance was also laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic pain medication, at a residence on Franklin Street in DuBois.
Vionito died from the overdose but the male recovered due to emergency medical intervention.
When he regained consciousness he told police he purchased four packets of heroin from Quashnock.
When interviewed by DuBois City police, Quashnock admitted to selling the drugs to the male.
It was an open plea meaning the commonwealth and the defense couldn’t agree on a minimum sentence. The presiding judge determines the maximum sentence.
The probation department recommended a minimum sentence of three years and a maximum of nine years.
Clearfield County District Attorney Ryan Sayers asked for a sentence to be in the aggravated range with a minimum of five years in state prison.
Quashnock’s attorney, Adam Bishop of Pittsburgh, asked for leniency and requested she be sentenced to a minimum of 18 months and a maximum of three years.
Bishop said Quashnock had a difficult childhood and was sexually assaulted when she was eight years old, and has struggled with mental health issues for much of her life.
Despite her struggles, Quashnock has a prior record score of 0 and up until recently had a job and was a productive member of society. This was the first time she was in jail.
He said she is remorseful for her actions and has written letters of apology to the victim’s mother and the court.
Bishop said a couple of years ago his client became addicted to drugs and alcohol, went on a downward spiral and lost her home and her job and began selling drugs to support her habit.
“She hit rock bottom,” Bishop said.
And within two months of selling drugs, she sold the drugs that killed the victim.
Since she has been in prison she has been clean and her family said she has returned to her old self that she was before she became addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Sayers argued that Quashnock should be sentenced in the aggravated range because she is not remorseful for her actions and due to her efforts to obtain drugs in jail so she could sell them.
A DuBois City Police officer testified that in recorded phone calls while Quashnock was in jail, she discussed smuggling drugs into the jail so she could sell them and bragged about being a drug dealer.
Sayers said Quashnock is only feigning remorse now so she can get out of jail sooner.
Sayers noted that two children lost their mother due to the overdose.
“A prolonged stay in state prison is appropriate for the defendant,” Sayers said.
Bishop argued that those phone calls were made soon after her arrest when Quashnock was undergoing withdrawal symptoms and she was seeking ways to obtain drugs to feed her addiction, and noted that the commonwealth has presented no evidence that she continued this behavior after June of 2019.
Sayers countered that there are numerous phone calls and police have not yet had the opportunity to listen to her phone calls after July 5, 2019.
In addition to the prison sentence, Ammerman ordered Quashnock to pay the state $10,000 in civil restitution, and $2,399 to the victim’s mother for funeral expenses and a cell phone.