Jordan MacDonald and Nicholas Provenza shared a close friendship. They also both used heroin, to which Provenza was addicted, according to his defense attorney.

So when MacDonald asked his friend to bring him some heroin on Oct. 5, 2012, Provenza agreed, according to Fairview Township Police.

It was the last thing Provenza did for his friend.

MacDonald, 22, of Chestnut Way in Fairview Township, died that day of opiate toxicity, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

Seven months later, police charged Provenza with the first-degree felony of drug delivery resulting in death.

Now 23, Provenza, of 10 Marshall Drive in Camp Hill, appeared in York County Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to the charge as part of a negotiated plea agreement, court records state.

Jordan MacDonald died of a heroin overdose.
Jordan MacDonald died of a heroin overdose.

Prison ordered: He was sentenced to 10 years of intensive probation, with the first 11-1/2 months in York County Prison, records state. He must report to the prison on July 2 and is eligible for the prison's outmate work-release program, records state.

Provenza also must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation, attend classes that stress the impact of crime on victims, complete a program to help him make better choices and -- if he doesn't have a job -- perform 20 hours of community service.

He also must pay restitution to his friend's family. The amount has not yet been determined but likely will be about $4,000, according to public defender Joshua Neiderhiser, who represents Provenza.


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'Best friends': "He and Jordan were best friends for (about) 13 years," Neiderhiser said, adding his client didn't deliver heroin to MacDonald to make money.

"This was his buddy asking for heroin, so he brought some over," the attorney said.

Like most heroin, the kind Provenza gave to MacDonald carried a "brand name," according to documents filed by police.

The empty glassine heroin bags found in the victim's room immediately after his death were stamped "Dream Chaser," police said, and Provenza told police it was his recollection the bags either were stamped with that name or with the name "Ready to Die."

Before Provenza's guilty-plea hearing began Monday morning, he spoke with the victim's mother, according to Neiderhiser.

Tears in court: "They shared an embrace and some words," he said, adding Provenza "was in tears" in court.

Mary MacDonald said she was pleased with the sentence Provenza received.

"I was pushing for that from the beginning," she said. "I don't believe rehabilitation occurs in prison."

Mary MacDonald said she loves Provenza and hopes he sees his punishment as an opportunity to help others.

"I hope he will embrace that," she said. "He would never have intentionally hurt my son."

MacDonald's death was a wake-up call to Provenza, according to his attorney.

Off heroin: "He's been clean since the incident," Neiderhiser said. "He went through a six-month heroin-addiction treatment and completed that. ... He's looking forward to doing intensive outpatient treatment."

Chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday, who handled the case along with deputy prosecutor Jennifer Smith, said in an emailed statement that Provenza's punishment was well-crafted.

"This sentence holds the defendant responsible while at the same time providing much needed intense supervision and treatment," Sunday wrote. "We hope that this terribly sad situation serves as a warning to others."

'Tremendous' increase: York County District Attorney Tom Kearney has said he doesn't intend to prosecute every person who shares heroin with a victim who fatally overdoses.

"What I am interested in is pursuing people who are supplying heroin that kills people," he said. "We're seeing a tremendous increase (in the number of fatal heroin ODs) and we have to do something about it."

Court documents allege police found evidence on Provenza's phone that he was supplying others with drugs as well.

The numbers: The number of heroin overdose deaths nationwide has increased 45 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

One reason for the rise appears to be the increase in popularity of abusing prescription opiates, such as OxyContin, Kearney has said. When addicts can no longer afford prescription pills, heroin in a cheaper alternative.

There are now more confirmed heroin-related deaths in York County so far in 2014 than there were in all of 2013, according to the district attorney.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.