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Addison man sentenced to state prison for drug delivery

January 18, 2019

Chad William Swanson, 43, Addison, was sentenced Thursday to 27 to 72 months in state prison in two 2017 cases, one connected to the overdose death of Christine Parks. He was given credit for 141 days of time served.

It appeared as though no one connected to Parks was at the sentencing hearing in Somerset County court. The judge did not mention Parks when he listed the reasons for his sentence, although Parks’ death was the basis for the charges. Initially, Swanson was charged with drug delivery resulting in death.

Swanson’s standby counsel, Tiffany Stanley of Somerset, told the court that “there is obviously a substance abuse issue here.”

Swanson represented himself in the cases, and Stanley was appointed by the court as his standby counsel to answer any legal questions. Swanson said he has made a lot of changes since the charges were filed.

“I straightened my life out quite a bit,” he said.

But when President Judge D. Gregory Geary asked him how he did so, his answer was vague.

“You have quite an extensive criminal history,” Geary said.

Swanson was first convicted of a felony offense in 1996, and his last charge was for drug paraphernalia possession in Fayette County in 2017, the judge said.

Now, Swanson is addicted to heroin, he said. When Swanson softly denied it, the judge responded, “Yes, absolutely.”

According to state police, Swanson delivered heroin mixed with fentanyl to Parks’ residence along East Arlington Drive in Somerset Township on Feb. 2, 2017.

Parks, 54, was found unresponsive in her living room the following day. Nearby were multiple pieces of drug paraphernalia and glassine packets later determined to contain fentanyl. One of the packets appeared to have been opened, state police said.

Parks died of “acute multi-drug toxicity,” according to an autopsy report. The drugs also contributed to Joseph Murphy’s overdose the following day, according to police. He allegedly bought the drugs from Swanson at Parks’ residence on Feb. 2.

Initially, Swanson was charged with one count of drug delivery resulting in death, a first-degree felony, and two counts each of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to deliver controlled substances and recklessly endangering another person.

Swanson was arrested by state police 13 days after the alleged drug deal for driving with an inoperable brake light on Route 601 at Route 30. He was pulled over when he turned right onto Ralphton Road in Jenner Township, according to court documents.

Seized from his vehicle were heroin packets that had the same label as those found in Parks’ home, police said.

He was charged with driving with fentanyl in his system and possession of a controlled substance, second offense, according to court documents.

Swanson pleaded guilty Jan. 7, on the day he was to pick his jury, to possession with intent to deliver in the first case and driving under the influence of a controlled substance in the second. The plea was part of a plea agreement.

At his sentencing, Geary told Swanson he was eligible for state prison’s Recidivism Risk Reduction Initiative program, which is designed to reduce recidivism among nonviolent offenders. The state program allows the county court to sentence those offenders to an alternate minimum sentence. For Swanson it is a reduced minimum sentence of 20 months and seven days. He will be released and start an earlier parole at that point if he successfully completes the program as well as any other prison program he is assigned.

Swanson must pay the costs of prosecution and supervision, $1,100 in fines and $3,146.40 in restitution. He was ordered to pay $75 into the Catastrophic Loss Benefits Continuation Fund and a $10 fee to emergency medical services. He must pay a DNA detection fee of $250. His driving privileges were suspended.

Geary said the sentence falls in the middle of the standard sentencing guidelines. He said Swanson was given his sentence partly due to his “lengthy” criminal record.

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