Man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in fatal overdose
BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER, STAFF WRITER / PUBLISHED: APRIL 26, 2018
A Factoryville man charged with providing fentanyl patches that led to the fatal overdose of his friend pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other offenses.
Zachary Ross, 22, agreed to the plea deal after Lackawanna County prosecutors dropped several other charges, including drug delivery resulting in death.
Ross was charged in connection with the March 18, 2016, death of Cody Albert of Kingsley. Prosecutors say Albert went into respiratory arrest after chewing fentanyl patches Ross illegally obtained from a Scranton pharmacy using a prescription for his mother, who suffers from cancer.
The plea deal significantly reduces Ross’ potential sentence. Drug delivery resulting in death is a first-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said his office agreed to the plea because the county’s forensic expert could not definitively determine if the fentanyl was the primary cause of Albert’s death — a required element to get a conviction for drug delivery resulting in death.
Court records filed in the case show Albert had several other drugs, which were legally prescribed to him, in his system when he died.
Powell said prosecutors consulted with Albert’s parents, Dale and Linda Albert, prior to reaching the deal. Attempts to reach the Alberts for comment were unsuccessful.
Ross entered the plea earlier this month before Lackawanna County Judge Margaret Bisignani Moyle. In addition to involuntary manslaughter, he pleaded guilty to acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. No sentencing date has been set.
Contact the writer:
@tmbeseckerTT on Twitter