Man Sentenced in Connection with Fatal Drug Overdose in Mount Olive

Published on May 12, 2023

Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll, Chief of Detectives Robert McNally, and Mount Olive Township Police Chief Stephen Beecher announce the sentencing of John P. Rowe, age 30, formerly of Budd Lake, New Jersey for first degree Strict Liability for Drug Induced Death and other charges

On March 22, 2023, Rowe entered guilty pleas to first degree Strict Liability for Drug Induced Death, first degree Possession of Methamphetamine with the Intent to Distribute, and a Violation of Probation.  On April 21, 2023, Rowe was sentenced to an aggregate term of 12 years New Jersey State Prison subject to the No Early Release Act.  The sentence was imposed by the Hon. Stephen J. Taylor, P.J. Cr.

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.  On September 22, 2021, law enforcement responded to the Days Inn 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 certified the cause of G.B.’s death as fentanyl toxicity.

Based on subsequent investigation, it was revealed that 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 was 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.

During a separate investigation in June 2022, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at a residence in Mount Olive 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.

At the time of both these incidents, Rowe was serving a probationary sentence.  As a result of these arrests, he was found to have violated the terms of his probationary sentence.

In accordance with the Criminal Justice Reform Act, Rowe was detained in the Morris County Correctional Facility during the pendency of these proceedings.

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.

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.

Inquiries concerning this press release should be directed to Meghan Knab at [email protected]s.


Tagged as: