Plea change hearings set for Forest City couple accused of providing oxycodone to woman who later died in accident

GARNER  — Plea change hearings have been set for both members of a Forest City couple charged with providing oxycodone to a woman who later died as the result of an accident in Hancock County.

61-year-old Bert Maharas and 63-year-old Joni Maharas were charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, a Class C felony. A criminal complaint says they sold oxycodone pills on May 31st to Tara Hartigan of Forest City, who later that day was involved in a rollover crash on 335th Street west of US Highway 69 in Hancock County. Hartigan died the next day at MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center in Mason City.

The complaint says during a conversation between the Maharases and law enforcement on October 22nd about messages found on Hartigan’s phone, they allegedly admitted that Hartigan bought anywhere between 15 to 20 oxycodone pills from them each month.

Both had filed written pleas of not guilty to the charges and were due to have their trial start on February 21st, but court records show plea change hearings have now been scheduled for February 20th in Hancock County District Court.