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Erie High student sentenced for having fentanyl at school in juvenile court case

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An Erie High School student has been ordered to a juvenile rehabilitation facility in another part of the state after the student admitted to possessing 13.96 grams of fentanyl and $3,100 in cash at the school during the first week of classes in August.

The student was sentenced to the facility at a hearing Tuesday in the juvenile court division of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz said. The student was found to be delinquent of the offenses at a previous hearing.

Judge John J. Trucilla sentenced the juvenile but did not set a specific length of time for the stay in the juvenile facility. As the law requires, Trucilla will review the case every six months to determine how much longer the juvenile should remain at the facility, Hirz said. Supervision of a juvenile found delinquent in Pennsylvania can continue until age 21.

Hirz said her office agreed with the recommendation of juvenile probation officials that the student should be placed in the out-of-county rehabilitation facility rather than returned home and released to the community.

The student had been detained at the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center in Millcreek Township following his arrest. The out-of-county residential facility, whose name and location Hirz did not disclose, is designed for longer and more intensive treatment of juvenile offenders. Erie County pays for the treatment.

Tuesday’s hearing — known as a dispositional hearing in the terminology of juvenile court — was closed to the public due to the age of the student. The student was not charged as an adult. A juvenile accused of a violent crime, such as a shooting, can be charged as an adult in Pennsylvania.

Officials with the District Attorney’s Office and the courts have declined to release more information about the student, including age and gender, due to the prosecution of the case in juvenile court, where defendants are younger than 18.

The student was accused of having 13.96 grams of fentanyl, possibly mixed with cocaine, and $3,100 in cash at Erie High on Aug. 31, the third day of classes for the Erie School District in the 2022-23 academic year. The student was charged with possession with the intent to deliver and reckless endangerment, for having the drugs at a school.

The student admitted to the charges on Sept. 8 at an adjudication hearing in juvenile court, similar to a plea hearing in adult criminal court. The student was adjudicated delinquent at the hearing.

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