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Greensburg woman accused of shoving nurse reaches plea deal

Friday, April 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Greensburg woman, who is accused of shoving a nurse into a wall after being taken to a hospital for an alleged drug overdose, has reached a plea agreement on Thursday.

But the tentative agreement for Laken Cope, 27, might fall through, said defense attorney Randall Ricciuti.

Cope had been scheduled to appear before Greensburg District Judge James Albert on charges of aggravated assault, terroristic threats, simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.

Prosecutors refused to withdraw the aggravated assault charge, a felony filed because the victim is a nurse, Ricciuti said.

“It's a tragedy what drugs can do,” Ricciuti said. “She's a mother of six with no real criminal record. They're seeking a felony, which will really ruin her life. But for the drugs, this wouldn't have happened.”

The proposed agreement calls for intermediate punishment, a form of probation that involves counseling programs for two years, then house arrest for six months. Any deal must be approved by a Westmoreland County judge.

Police said Cope became irate after signing herself out of the intensive care unit of Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg about 3 p.m. March 6, city police said. She began arguing with Christina Ciampanelli, 28, of Delmont, disrupting 11 patients, according to court papers.

Ciampanelli, who had been partying with Cope, was brought to the hospital with Cope because of an overdose, authorities said.

A nurse attempted to intervene in the argument and was shoved against the wall by Cope, who then spat on her, police said. Cope allegedly threatened the nurse after she was being escorted away by security guards.

Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Calisti, who forged the agreement with Cope, declined to comment.

Greensburg Detective Jerry Vernail, who arrested Cope and Ciampanelli, said police and medical personnel see the kind of behavior Cope allegedly displayed far too often.

“We wouldn't budge off the felony,” the detective said. “That's the part that doesn't get publicized — police, emergency workers, ambulance personnel, intensive care workers have no one to advocate for them for these people who are brought in for overdoses and act like that. That's why it's a felony.”

At an arraignment before Albert, Cope denied doing heroin. She is free on $25,000 bond.

Ciampanelli agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Under a proposed agreement, she will be on probation for one year and report for programs at the county's day reporting center.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or



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