Woman Admits to Delivering Fatal Dose of Fentanyl in Lancaster County

Valerie BenattiValerie Benatti /Submitted Image

LANCASTER, PA — In a somber courtroom in Lancaster County, a 29-year-old woman from Montgomery County faced the consequences of her actions tied to the opioid crisis gripping many parts of the United States. Valerie Benatti pleaded guilty on Wednesday to providing a fatal dose of fentanyl that led to the overdose death of a 56-year-old individual in Conestoga Township last year.

The tragic event unfolded on the evening of August 20, 2022, when Pennsylvania State Police were summoned to Slackwater Road in response to a suspected overdose case. Through an analysis of cell phone data and statements from witnesses, investigators pieced together the events leading up to the victim’s death, pinpointing Benatti as the source of the fentanyl consumed by the victim the preceding Thursday.

The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office later confirmed the cause of death as acute fentanyl toxicity, a potent reminder of the lethal nature of the opioid and its role in the ongoing epidemic. Benatti, residing on Meadow Lane in Harleysville, acknowledged her role in the tragic incident during subsequent police interviews, admitting to supplying the drug that resulted in the lethal overdose.

The case is currently being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Mark Fetterman, with Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Noah Robinson having filed the initial charges. The admission of guilt brings a partial closure to the case, pending sentencing. Lancaster County Judge Dennis Reinaker deferred the imposition of Benatti’s sentence until a presentence investigation is completed, a standard procedure in such serious cases to thoroughly assess the circumstances and determine an appropriate penalty.

This incident underscores the dire consequences of fentanyl distribution and use, a substance estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Its involvement in an increasing number of overdose deaths has health officials and law enforcement agencies on high alert, striving to combat the proliferation of this and other opioids in communities across the country.

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