Schuylkill County Courthouse Blunder Lets Convicted Heroin Dealer Loose for 6 Months
Someone at Schuylkill County Courthouse botched processing a convicted heroin dealer. It allowed serial suspect Nancy Cole — convicted and sentenced — to sell more drugs for six months until she eventually got locked up last month.
Here’s how it happened:
Cole, 57, was sentenced to prison Sept. 12 last year. She was ordered to start serving her sentence Oct. 5. That’s the date she was supposed to show up at the prison.
But Cole never showed up.
Even worse? No one at Schuylkill County Prison knew Cole was due there that day.
That’s because the sentencing information never made it from Judge Cyrus P. Dolbin’s courtroom to the prison.
Normally, when a person is sentenced and ordered to report to prison at a later date, the prison knows they’re coming.
When the judge hands down the sentence, documents get processed and distributed to various locations.
If someone’s sentenced to prison, prison officials get a notification. The defendant and their attorney get a copy of this paperwork, too.
Same goes with sentences that include things like, for example, a suspended driver’s license. The court notifies PennDOT this is happening.
So, when someone doesn’t show up to prison the day they’re ordered there, prison officials go on alert. A bench warrant gets issued by a judge and authorities go out and find the no-show.
Sentencing Nancy Cole
Cole received her 21-42 month sentence on Sept. 12 last year, according to court documents.
A source close to the case says Cole was ordered to appear at Schuylkill County prison on Oct. 5.
It’s typical for convicted defendants not considered a flight risk to be given time like this to get their affairs on the outside in order before going to prison.
For some reason, the court allowed Cole that time. It’s a very lenient decision, really. Prior to this, Cole has been running from or in trouble with the law for years.
The heroin dealing charges she eventually pleads guilty to last year stem from a 2017 incident in which she sold drugs to an undercover cop in Tamaqua.
When police went to round her up for the initial court appearance on those charges, they found her already in prison. She was in a Lackawanna County prison for violating parole stemming from a 2016 drug-related incident.
According to Cole’s court record, the trail dates beyond that, too.
The Courthouse Blunder That Put a Heroin Dealer Back on the Street
But let’s jump back to the present …
Cole should appear at Schuylkill County prison on Oct. 5 but never shows.
And no bench warrant gets issued in this case.
Why? No one at Schuylkill County Prison knew Cole was supposed to report.
Someone at the Courthouse failed to properly file Cole’s sentencing order at the prison.
So Oct. 5 comes and goes and no one has any reason to think Cole should have been there.
Finally Catching Cole
So, on Oct. 6, when Cole failed to appear at Schuylkill County prison, a bench warrant should have been issued. It wasn’t.
And no one thought to look for her without that order in the prison’s possession. She didn’t come up on their radar, as it were.
Instead, Cole eventually got locked up when her name surfaced in a recent drug investigation in Tamaqua.
Rather than use the borrowed time she had on the lam, Cole couldn’t stay out of trouble. That means she was likely out selling more heroin and whatever else she could until she was caught again … if ever.
When the name came up, it tipped off police who apparently put in a call to the right people to get a bench warrant issued for her arrest on April 18.
Cole now serves time at SCI-Muncy.