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What you need to know for 12/15/2017

'May God be with you, Matt'

'May God be with you, Matt'

Sentencing for man who provided heroin that caused Saratoga Springs woman's death
'May God be with you, Matt'
Eve Cascone holds a photo of her daughter, Katie-Lynn Scheidt, in November 2015.
Photographer: Daily Gazette file photo

ALBANY — In court Thursday, Katie-Lynn Scheidt's mother, Eve Cascone, faced the man who sold her daughter the heroin that killed her.

"Despite everything, I pray for Matt Charo and his family just about every day," said Cascone, of Wilton, during Matthew Charo's federal sentencing on charges of distributing heroin.

At the same time, Cascone said she is "angry beyond words."

"I am devastated, heartbroken, shattered, and I live with an emptiness that is incomprehensible," Cascone said. "That is my life sentence."

The term imposed Thursday on Charo, 35, of Saratoga Springs, amounts to 10 years in federal prison.

He admitted in federal court in August that he knowingly distributed heroin. He was also accused of accompanying Scheidt, 30, of Saratoga Springs, to Schenectady in October 2014 and buying the heroin on which she later overdosed.

Family members have said Scheidt appeared to be doing the right things in her recovery from substance abuse before she relapsed.

The August plea deal marked a compromise with Charo, who originally faced one count of distribution of a controlled substance with death resulting after his arrest in October 2015.

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Katie-Lynn Scheidt with her brother Brandon at his graduation. (Provided)

He formally pleaded guilty in August to the distribution charge — not the death resulting count — as part of the plea deal. Judge Frederick Scullen Jr. accepted his plea deal and imposed the agreed-upon sentence Thursday. 

In court, prosecutor Daniel Hanlon and defense attorney James Knox reiterated arguments they filed ahead of Charo's sentencing.

Hanlon expressed hope that Charo's lengthy sentence would deter other drug dealers.

Knox noted the tragedy that Scheidt's family suffered, then noted his client's own addiction. He asked that Charo receive treatment while incarcerated. Scullen, as part of Thursday's sentencing, ordered that treatment to be offered.

In his pre-sentence filing, Knox wrote that Charo wished to express his sincere remorse to Scheidt's family.

Charo gave a brief apology in court on Thursday.

"I never meant for any of this to happen," Charo said. "I'm sorry."

Scheidt's mother was joined in court by family, friends and supporters, including Scheidt's father, Frederick Scheidt.

Afterward, Frederick Scheidt, a retired state trooper, recalled the "evil" his daughter encountered in October 2014. Had she not met Charo, Scheidt said, maybe his daughter would have succeeded in her struggles to beat her addiction. Maybe she'd be clean, healthy and married now.

"And maybe Christmas this year for our family would be a good thing and not like it's going to be," he said.

Katie-Lynn Scheidt's family is among those fighting for Laree's Law, proposed legislation that would allow drug dealers to be charged with homicide if drugs they sell cause a death. For now, such cases can only be prosecuted at the federal level.

"To me, it's not about Katie specifically," the father said of Laree's Law. "[It's] more about us as a society or a community doing the right thing."

In court, Cascone also appeared to address the proposed legislation. She hopes it is the beginning of justice for those "selling death in a plastic bag," she said.

"It is my hope that the laws will become very strict, and the sentencing becomes more severe, especially when a dealer's client dies as a result of poison they have sold to their client," she added.

Her hope is that Charo and other dealers who spend time in prison make time to reflect on their actions and how they have impacted others.

"Time in prison should be painful enough to cause someone to not want to continue the lifestyle that they led before, which would ultimately create tragedy and heartache for other families," Cascone said.

She then turned and faced the defendant directly, saying, "May God be with you, Matt."

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