SMETHPORT — Two people pleaded guilty Monday in McKean County Court to allegations related to a methamphetamine lab found at their Liberty Township residence.
A trial had been scheduled to begin Monday for Patricia A. Larson, 33, and Rory D. Ford, 36. Cases against them — two each — had been consolidated for trial, according to District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer.
“Just prior (to) trial, I was notified that the defendants desired to plead guilty,” Shaffer said. “Any plea so close to trial is considered open or non-binding.”
For an open or non-binding plea, the sentencing judge is not bound by the sentence recommended in the plea agreement; the judge can impose any sentence that is within the guideline range.
In contrast, in the case of a binding plea agreement, the defendant has the option to have the case listed for trial if the judge does not follow the sentence recommended in the plea.
Shaffer said Larson pleaded guilty to charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and delivery of Subutex, while Ford pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy-operating a meth lab and conspiracy-criminal use of a communication facility.
Court records filed at the time of their arrest on July 19, 2018, indicated that at 10:40 p.m. July 17, at their 195 Lower Portage Road home, Ford and Larson conspired to sell one Subutex pill in exchange for $40.
The sale was reportedly arranged the sale via cell phone.
Then, on July 19, detectives with the McKean County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at the residence and found an active rolling methamphetamine lab, Shaffer reported at that time.
Agents with the PA State Attorney General and PA State Police Clandestine Lab team were brought in to process the scene, and the Port Allegany Ambulance and Fire Department were on standby.
Larson and Ford will be sentenced at 1 p.m. Aug. 1. Shaffer noted that a bench warrant hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday because Larson did not appear for a scheduled bail hearing last week.