Parole violation leads to prison sentence

HOLLIDAYSBURG – An Altoona woman who initially got into trouble with the law for selling methadone has violated her parole and will now spend time at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy, which has a drug treatment program called State Intermediate Punishment.

Angela Marie Conte, 37, didn’t want to be sent to Muncy.

Her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ed Ferguson, argued Friday to Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva that instead of sending Conte to a state prison, she sentence her to a period in the Blair County Prison and then place her on probation so she could tend to her three children.

Kopriva refused, pointing out Conte had reached the point where she “needs a dramatic change.”

The young mother has repeatedly received treatment. She has participated in the Women’s Inprison Treatment Program in Blair County, received inpatient care through Altoona-based Pyramid Healthcare, and had outpatient treatment with the Blair County Home Nursing Agency.

She completed the treatment programs but recently admitted to the use of Xanax and landed back in prison for failing to report to the Blair County Adult Parole and Probation Office.

Conte was then placed in Blair County’s drug court program to be followed by six months’ probation.

While in prison, authorities taped conversations she had with a boyfriend in which she said she had become high on Adderall, an amphetamine, and overused the prescribed drug Seroquel.

The Blair County Prison records phone conversations, and Conte’s discussion of the two drugs was on a disc that Kopriva listened to when she, Ferguson and Assistant District Attorney Emily Freed went into her office before the Friday morning hearing.

Conte said her words were misunderstood.

She said she never took Adderall and never abused her prescription medicine.

She tearfully asked Kopriva to believe her.

“This is the first time I’m not guilty, and it blows my mind,” she said.

Court records show that Conte was arrested originally for selling methadone.

She has three charges filed against her, each for sale of liquid methadone at $60-a-hit.

The illegal sales were on Sept. 3, Sept. 10 and Sept. 17, 2010.

Parole and probation officials recommended three to six years behind bars, or a year for each sale.

Kopriva gave Conte a choice of going to the state correctional institution on a regular sentence. With good time, her prison sentence would be reduced from 36 to 27 months.

The other choice was the drug treatment program, known as State Intermediate Punishment, which Conte selected.

She will be sent to Muncy for evaluation, and if she is found eligible for the program, she will be sentenced to it.

Under IP, Conte will spend time in prison, a treatment center and a halfway house.

Kopriva told Conte: “This is really a test. You are at a crossroads … whether you are going to make a change.”

Conte’s children are being cared for by grandparents.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.