MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – A former Budd Lake man has been sentenced to prison in connection with the fatal overdose death of a 19-year-old man who died in September 2021, according to Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll.
John P. Rowe, 30, was sentenced on April 29 to an aggregate term of 12 years New Jersey State Prison subject to the No Early Release Act, Carroll said.
Rowe entered guilty pleas on March 22 to first-degree strict liability for drug induced death, first-degree possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and a violation of probation, Carroll said.
The strict liability for drug-Induced death charge arises from a September 2021 fatal drug overdose that occurred at the Days Inn located in Mount Olive Township, Carroll said.
On September 22, 2021, police responded to the Days Inn on a report of an unconscious male. The male, later identified as G.B., was transported to the hospital and subsequently pronounced dead on September 23, 2021. The Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office certified the cause of G.B.’s death as fentanyl toxicity, Carroll said.
Based on subsequent investigation, it was revealed that Rowe distributed fentanyl on September 21, 2021, in Morristown and It’s further alleged that G.B.’s death resulted from his ingestion of the fentanyl distributed by Rowe, Carroll said.
This statute provides that any person who manufactures, distributes, or dispenses any of a number of controlled dangerous substances is strictly liable for a death that results from the injection, inhalation, or ingestion of that substance. This is a first-degree crime, which is punishable by up to twenty years in New Jersey State Prison and is subject to the eighty-five percent parole ineligibility requirements of the No Early Release Act.
During a separate investigation in June 2022, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at a residence in Mount Olive Township where Rowe was known to live. During execution of the search warrant, officers seized a number of items, including more than five ounces of Methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance, Carroll said.
At the time of both these incidents, Rowe was serving a probationary sentence and as a result of these arrests, he was found to have violated the terms of his probationary sentence, Carroll said.
In accordance with the Criminal Justice Reform Act, Rowe was detained in the Morris County Correctional Facility during the pendency of these proceedings, Carroll said.
At the time of Rowe’s arrest, Prosecutor Carroll stated that drug dealers should be on notice that the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office will not hesitate to charge illegal drug dealers with the first degree Strict Liability Drug-Induced Death statute when the facts support the connection between the dealer and the death of their user/victim. Dealers of deadly Fentanyl should pay special attention as they are dealing lethal substances often to unknowing consumers who may overdose.
Several law enforcement agencies contributed to this investigation, including the Mount Olive Township Police Department, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit.