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Somerset woman sentenced to prison for role in overdose death

October 2, 2018

Kimberly Bolton, 57, Somerset, will spend 16 to 48 months in state prison for her role in the overdose death of Brandon Lake.

The 37-year-old Milford Township man died March 3, 2017, of an overdose of fentanyl, a potent pain reliever that is sometimes abused for its heroin-like effect, according to police.

Bolton purchased about a gram of the substance, believing it was heroin, from Jeffrey Tarpley Jr. 42, Somerset. Amanda Armstrong, 63, Somerset, bought the drugs from Bolton and sold them to Lake, according to court documents.

The three co-defendants initially were charged with drug delivery resulting in death, a first-degree felony. They pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver, also a felony, as part of a plea agreement.

“Some of the issues are being able to confirm that the drugs that are delivered by, you know, one individual are the same drugs that are taken, you know, by the end victim,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Carbonara said in a prior interview about the difficulty of making the drug delivery resulting in death charge stick.

Often the individuals charged are friends or family members of the person who overdoses. Bolton’s daughters were friends of Lake’s.

“My heart goes out to you every day,” Bolton told Lake’s mother, Georgia Wild, who read a statement at the sentencing hearing Monday.

All three co-defendants said they were sorry about what happened and for the pain it caused Wild.

In July, Armstrong was sentenced to eight to 36 months in prison for possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance. She was declared eligible for the state prison system’s Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive program, which allowed an alternative minimum sentence of six months if she successfully complies with all the program requirements. Armstrong was sentenced in the same county courtroom as Bolton.

In March, Tarpley received six to 14 years in state prison for his role in Lake’s death. He was sentenced via video conference from a state prison.

Tarpley, Armstrong and Bolton all told the judge they did not know the substance in the stamp bags was fentanyl and not heroin.

Wild told the court that on March 3, 2017, her son wished her a happy birthday and went upstairs. He said he would be back down in a couple minutes to help with chores.

“Just minutes after I heard him close the bathroom door, I heard an awful thud,” she said. “I froze for a moment in complete and utter horror. I knew what might have happened but could not allow myself to process it.”

She found him lying face down on the floor, motionless. She shook his shoulders and called his name. Crying, she called 911. A dispatcher helped her administer CPR, but nothing happened, she said.

Her son was gone, and her life was forever changed.

“It was like a nightmare,” Wild said. “A nightmare would have been better.”

The sentence is on the high end of the standard range of the sentencing guidelines, President Judge D. Gregory Geary said.

“You were part of the causal chain that led to the overdose death of Brandon Lake,” he told Bolton.

Tarpley and Bolton were charged in a separate case with selling heroin to a confidential informant seven days after Lake’s death. The bags were labeled “Oliver Queen,” the same as those found in Lake’s pocket on the day he died. The bags tested positive for fentanyl. The two cases were joined for an aggregate sentence.

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