Youngwood woman who allegedly dealt heroin fails to post $125K cash bond, sent to jail
One moment Lori Sullenberger was a patient at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital, and the next, she was standing before District Judge James Albert, accused of dealing in heroin from her hospital bed while recovering from surgery.
The 37-year-old Youngwood woman was arraigned on charges of possessing heroin, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin with intent to deliver.
She is being held in the Westmoreland County jail, unable to post a $125,000 cash bond. She faces a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. May 1.
Sullenberger was discharged late Thursday afternoon from the Greensburg hospital and was immediately arrested and arraigned. She told Albert she had been in the hospital's intensive care unit for 12 days.
Sullenberger walked slowly into the courtroom handcuffed and appeared weak from her hospital stay. She declined comment on her arrest.
ICU staff at Excela said they became suspicious when a parade of visitors came to see Sullenberger, then left after only staying a few minutes, which Greensburg police Detective Jerry Vernail said is “indicative of drug transactions.” The staff notified hospital security, which called Vernail.
Standing in the hallway outside her room, Vernail said he was able to overhear Sullenberger discussing the sale of heroin with others and about money she was owed.
Vernail and county narcotics Detective Tony Marcocci had an informant accompany another person who allegedly purchased heroin from Sullenberger. The man, who has not yet been charged, purchased three bundles of the drug contained in stamp bags marked “bingo” for $90, according to investigators. The man later was stopped by police in the hospital lobby with the drugs, according to an affidavit.
Detectives then searched Sullenberger's room and recovered 342 bags of heroin and a syringe. Two additional syringes were found in her purse. She told police she used one needle to inject heroin into her IV solution and the second to flush the drug from the line, according to the charges. More than $1,400 in cash also was found in her possession.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.