A Lancaster woman recently pleaded no contest for her role in an arranged drug deal last year in Manheim Township that ended in a man’s death.
Christine L. Richardson pleaded to three felonies and two misdemeanors regarding the Oct. 5, 2015, drug deal on Martha Avenue that resulted in 21-year-old Nicholas Vassallo being shot and killed.
Richardson, 38, was involved in the planning of the drug deal and provided a ride for Vassallo and her juvenile son to the scene of the arranged deal.
Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker ordered a sentence of time-served to 23 months, plus 5 years of probation, according to Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson.
Richardson has served about 4 months in prison and will spend the next 19 months on parole, to be followed by the probation term.
Anderson, lead prosecutor, requested a state-prison sentence.
In court, Denise Eshleman, Vassallo’s mother, expressed forgiveness, but berated Richardson for leaving Vassallo to bleed and die on the street.
Richardson drove off, with her son in the car, after Vassallo was shot inside a second car by Robert Peters IV – the arranged buyer. Vassallo, Richardson and the juvenile planned to offer a bag of oregano as marijuana for a $3,500 sale.
Richardson apologized in court.
Peters pleaded guilty in May to third-degree murder and is serving 15 to 40 years in prison.
Robert Peters and a woman were in the other car which met for the sale near an old silk mill on Martha and Frances avenues. Peters intended to rob the seller: He had about $50 in “show money” – a wad of $1 bills with a $20 bill on the outside.
Manheim Township police Detective Steven Newman filed charges.
A defendant who pleads no contest doesn’t admit guilt, but concedes there is ample evidence for conviction. A no-contest plea has the same legal effect as a guilty plea.
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