The mother and uncle of a North Charleston teen who died of a fentanyl overdose within a week of his release from a rehabilitation facility were sentenced Monday to federal prison for providing the drugs that killed him.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel sentenced Lisa Cohen, 55, to 12 years and 51-year-old Natale Colitte to eight years for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Each will remain on supervised release for an additional three years.
The siblings were living together in September 2017 when 17-year-old Sebastian Cohen returned home from a brief stay at a drug treatment facility. Within four days of his return, his mother traded jewelry to a drug dealer for what she believed was heroin and meth, according to court documents.
The dealer warned Cohen and Colitte the heroin came from a particularly strong batch that had caused another person to overdose, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
On the afternoon before her son's death, she found Colitte lying unconscious next to a needle on the ground and helped him to a couch. Hours later, Sebastian called to his mother from the kitchen. By the time she responded, he was unconscious.
Sebastian was pronounced dead at the scene. He died from an overdose of fentanyl while also having methamphetamine in his system, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Cohen and Colitte proceeded to finish using the remaining drugs the following day.
"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," U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon said.
"The tragic facts of this case demonstrate the dire impact this crisis is having on families across the country," she added. "We will continue to fight to provide some measure of justice to families like Sebastian’s, who have lost loved ones much too soon.”
At the mother's bond hearing, Sebastian's father told the court she had been high at the teen's funeral.
"I just don't think that she should be able to go home and live comfortably in the house where all that happened," he said, according to court documents.
Sebastian loved fishing, war history and video games, according to his obituary, and is survived by his brother and sister.