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Police file charges in overdose death

Police say Loyalhanna man supplied drugs to Patton native

Guter

A Westmoreland County man faces charges in Blair County in an 2019 drug overdose death.

Christopher H. Guter, 29, of Loyalhanna was arraigned late Monday on state police charges of felony drug delivery resulting in death and related charges stemming from the Aug. 14 drug overdose death of a 31-year-old Travis J. Charney. According to his obituary, Charney was living in Massachusetts but was a native of Patton.

State police indicated Charney died of an overdose of heroin, fentanyl and kratom, an herbal extract.

According to charges filed by state police, Charney was found dead in a Frankstown Township home and after police saw messages on his unlocked iPhone that appeared to be about drugs, the phone was seized and searched.

The messages were from someone labeled “Scooter,” and the number was subsequently traced to Guter, state police contend.

Also found by state police inside the vehicle Charney drove from Massachusetts in were two stamp bags, labeled “Transformers” in red ink, state police noted in the charges. The stamp bags were found inside a convenience store bag with a receipt from the night of Charney’s death showing the store was in Blairsville.

State police allege messages on the phone indicate Charney and Guter arranged to meet up and get heroin from a drug dealer in Latrobe. Afterward, messages between the two indicated they discussed getting together again and the fact the bundle Charney bought, which would typically have 10 packets of heroin, only had nine.

In late December, a family member called Guter while state police investigators listened in, and Guter initially denied getting drugs for or with Charney before he died. When confronted with the text messages, Guter allegedly admitted that he and Charney had gone to Latrobe together to buy heroin from a drug dealer, according to state police.

Guter’s bail was set at $200,000 cash by Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller on Monday night and Guter was lodged in Blair County Prison.

Along with the felony charge of drug delivery resulting in death, Guter is also charged with felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility and delivery of heroin and misdemeanor recklessly endangering another person.

A preliminary hearing is slated for June 16 before Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner.

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