1st Deg. Charge Filed Against Budd Lake Man in Fatal Overdose Case

Published on July 15, 2022

Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll, Chief of Detectives Christoph Kimker, and Mount Olive Township Police Chief Stephen Beecher announce the filing of a first degree Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death charge against John P. Rowe, age 30, with a last known address in Budd Lake, New Jersey.  The charge arises from a fatal drug overdose which occurred in Mount Olive, New Jersey on September 21, 2021.

On September 22, 2021, law enforcement responded to the Days Inn located in Mount Olive on a report of an unconscious male. The male victim, later identified as G.B., age 19, was transported to the hospital and subsequently pronounced deceased on September 23, 2021. The Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office has certified the cause of G.B.’s death as fentanyl toxicity.

Based on subsequent investigation, it is alleged that John P. Rowe distributed fentanyl on September 21, 2021, in Morristown, NJ. It is further alleged that G.B.’s death resulted from his ingestion of the fentanyl distributed by Rowe.

Rowe has been charged with Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-9. 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 (20) years in New Jersey State Prison and is subject to the eighty-five (85) percent parole ineligibility requirements of the No Early Release Act. In connection with this investigation, Rowe was previously charged with Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance with the Intent to Distribute, in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S. 2C:35-5b(5), Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance, in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S. 2C:35-5b(5), and Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10a(1).

In accordance with the Criminal Justice Reform Act, Rowe has been detained in the Morris County Correctional Facility pending future court proceedings.

Prosecutor Carroll stated, “Drug dealers should be on notice that we will not hesitate to charge them 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.”

Multiple 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.

If anyone has any information related to this investigation, they are encouraged to call the Major Crimes Unit of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office at 973-285-6200. 

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite these accusations, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until they have each been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Inquiries concerning this press release should be directed to [email protected].    


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