Mother and Uncle Sentenced to Federal Prison for Drug Conspiracy Tied to 17 Year Old's Death
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Lisa Cohen, age 55, and her brother Natale Colitte, age 51, both of North Charleston, were sentenced in federal court for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel, of Charleston, sentenced Cohen to 12 years in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and sentenced Colitte to 8 years in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
Evidence presented in the case established that Colitte began living with Cohen and her 17-year-old son Sebastian Cohen in late June 2017. Despite knowledge of her son’s substance abuse issues, Cohen routinely purchased heroin and sent Colitte to purchase heroin. Cohen and Colitte would then share the heroin while also allowing Sebastian to use the drugs. In September 2017, Cohen brought Sebastian home after a short stay at a treatment facility. She and Colitte initially began providing Sebastian with methamphetamine in an attempt to dissuade him from using heroin before ultimately sharing heroin with him again.
Despite their source of supply, Brian Lee (who is awaiting sentencing in a separate federal case), telling them that the heroin he was selling them was stronger than what he had previously been giving them, Cohen and Colitte still made no efforts to keep the drugs from Sebastian. On September 25, 2017, Cohen traded jewelry to her source of supply for what she believed was heroin and methamphetamine. The following day, Colitte became unconscious after injecting some of the drugs and was moved from the bathroom to the couch by Cohen and Sebastian. Later that night, Cohen found Sebastian unconscious on the kitchen floor. Sebastian was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics and later testing showed that Sebastian died from an overdose of fentanyl, while also having methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death. Cohen and Colitte proceeded to finish using the remaining drugs the following day.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to stemming the tide of the opioid epidemic through strategic community partnerships as well as the aggressive prosecution of individuals who distribute these deadly drugs without regard for the lives of others,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon. “That a mother, aided by her brother, would willingly provide such dangerous drugs to her 17-year-old son, ultimately causing his death, is beyond comprehension. The tragic facts of this case demonstrate the dire impact this crisis is having on families across the country. We will continue to fight to provide some measure of justice to families like Sebastian’s, who have lost loved ones much too soon.”
Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division stated, “An unprecedented, tragic loss of life in this investigation defines the severity of the prescription opioid crisis this country is experiencing. In this case, the defendants distributed opioids to Sebastian Cohen. Tragically, the drugs led to his death. DEA, its law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to bringing to justice those responsible for fueling this deadly crisis.”
The case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the North Charleston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Nick Bianchi of the Charleston Office is prosecuting the case.
Lance Crick (864) 282-2105
Updated September 10, 2019