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Olean dealer guilty of negligent homicide in heroin death

LITTLE VALLEY – A drug dealer has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the heroin overdose death of Matthew Harper, 42, of Olean on Feb. 24, 2016.

Chelsea Lyons, 27, also pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor drug charges for drug sales in Olean in August 2015.

Under the plea before Cattaraugus County Judge Ronald D. Ploetz, Lyons waived her appeal rights and faces a maximum combined prison term of one to three years in prison when sentenced June 26.

Lyons' attorney, Matthew Albert, said he is hopeful his client will be spared prison and sentenced to either probation or a drug treatment program. Albert also noted that Lyons – currently free on bail – considered Harper "a friend."

In a prepared statement, District Attorney Lori Pettit Rieman said she views the negligent homicide plea as setting a precedent. Lyons, she added, knew the heroin she sold Harper contained highly potent fentanyl. The district attorney also said she plans to employ more negligent homicide charges against other potential defendants in fatal drug cases.

In other cases last week before Ploetz:

  • Thomas P. Kissinger, 22, of Olean waived grand jury action and pleaded guilty as charged to fifth-degree arson and fourth-degree criminal mischief for vandalizing St. John's Catholic Church and setting fire to a Catholic missal on Feb. 14. Arrested March 2, he will be sentenced on June 26.
  • John Ackerman, 52, of Olean waived grand jury action and pleaded guilty as charged to second-degree attempted strangulation as the result of an altercation in Olean on Dec. 8. He faces sentencing June 26.
  • Maurienne Jimerson, 37, of Salamanca pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, felony driving while intoxicated, using a motor vehicle without a court-ordered interlock device, drinking alcohol in a vehicle and failing to keep right. Jimerson, who was pulled over in the City of Salamanca on Dec. 11, posted a blood-alcohol level of 0.36 percent, more than four times the state's legal limit, according to authorities.
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