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Two Charged in Pena's Overdose Death

by on April 11, 2017 9:13 PM

Two women have been charged with felonies in connection with the overdose death of Corrine Pena, whose body was found on the side of a road in Ferguson Township in February 2016. One of the women charged is accused of being a regular drug dealer in Centre County.

Sabine Graham was arrested Tuesday and charged with drug delivery resulting in death, five counts of possession with intent to deliver and five counts of delivery of a controlled substance. She was scheduled to be arraigned at 10 p.m. before District Judge Steven Lachman.

Maria Gilligan is charged as an accomplice to drug delivery resulting in death, accomplice to possession with intent, and accomplice to delivery of a controlled substance. She had not yet been taken into custody as of Tuesday night, but police believe she is in the area.

Pena's frozen body was found wrapped in a bed sheet in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, 2016 on the side of Plainfield Road. Robert Moir, of Patton Township, pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse last year after admitting he dumped Pena on the side of the road after finding she had overdosed in his bathroom. He was not involved with procuring the fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, on which she overdosed. Fentanyl is often mixed with filler by dealers to stretch the product and sold to buyers who think they are purchasing heroin.

Pena, 35, of Philadelphia, had been staying with Moir just prior to her death. He told police he had met her in Philadelphia and brought her back to Centre County with him.

The charges filed against Graham and Gilligan are the result of a recommendation by the First Centre County Grand Jury and an investigation over more than a year by Ferguson Township Police. District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced the charges at the Ferguson Township Police Department on Tuesday night.

Investigators say Gilligan arranged for Pena to meet with Graham to purchase heroin on the day Pena died. The grand jury also heard testimony from four individuals who said Graham had sold them heroin on multiple occasions and alleged that she regularly brought heroin from the Williamsport area to Centre County

"Through diligent work and tracing back evidence the detective was able to determine who actually gave [Pena] the drugs that poisoned her that night," Parks Miller said. "That's a difficult job... It's very difficult to pinpoint specifically who delivers the drugs that end up killing someone."

She said the investigation led by Det. Josh Martin found that Graham had been an active drug dealer in the area.

"In this case they were able to determine that one of the two people who gave her the drugs that night was a very active dealer in our community," Parks Miller said. "I really commend Ferguson Township, Det. Josh Martin and everyone who helped him. This is a major victory and the credit belongs to Ferguson Township."

According to the grand jury presentment, Gilligan was one of two people to come forward to identify the deceased as Pena and to say she believed Pena was staying with Moir. Gilligan told police she knew Pena from rehab, that they had an occasional romantic relationship and that Pena had recently told her she was coming to the area and staying with Moir.

Early in the day on Feb. 13, 2016, she told police, Gilligan and Pena traveled to Lock Haven together. Moir, meanwhile, testified that on that day he dropped Pena off so she could spend time with friends and later picked her up at the North Atherton Street Walmart several hours before her death. Investigators reviewed surveillance video that showed Pena, Gilligan and Graham together that afternoon at Walmart. They parted ways and Pena got into a vehicle matching the description of Moir's.

Graham allegedly admitted to police that she drove with Pena to Lock Haven where she obtained 22 bags of heroin. She said she gave 14 to Pena and sold the remaining bags to three other people in Centre County, according to the presentment. Graham reportedly said she had no connection to Pena before Gilligan called and asked to sell them heroin.

Moir testified to the grand jury that he had met Pena a week before her death in Philadelphia. She told him she was a single mother and addicted to drugs, and that she wanted to go back to the Centre Region and get into rehab. Before they returned, he said he asked her if she had any drugs on her and she said no. She also told him she typically concealed drugs in a cutout section of her bra. Police would later find six of the 14 bags inside of her bra and they say she ingested eight doses of fentanyl, believing it was heroin, on the night she died.

After Moir awoke to find Pena had overdosed in his bathroom, he panicked and drove her body to Plainfield Road. The next day, after her body was discovered, he received phone calls from two unknown people. The first, he testified, sounded female and told him Pena was dead and to "keep silent" about it. The second caller said their name was "Jack" and insisted Moir not go to police and reveal Pena was with "Jack" or the first caller the day of her death.

Four individuals, whose names are redacted in the presentment, testified before the grand jury about their experiences buying heroin from Graham.

One of the witnesses said they accompanied Graham on 20 of her 30 "drug runs" to Williamsport in August 2016. Sometimes they made multiple runs in one day, according to the presentment. They said they observed Graham deliver heroin to houses in Bellefonte and to individuals working at the Grange Fair.

Another told the grand jury that they started buying heroin from Graham in 2013 and had most recently purchased from her in November 2016. 

Graham allegedly admitted to one of the witnesses that she could be tied to two overdoses -- Pena's and a female who overdosed in a restroom at Ross clothing store.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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