YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office have charged two Paterson men with manslaughter and related offenses in the overdose death last month of a 22-year-old Allendale man who they said bought the fatal heroin from them the night before.
Allendale police called to his home just found Brendan Cole dead in his bedroom just after 3:30 a.m. Jan. 4, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said this afternoon.
An investigation led detectives to Timothy Volpe, 20, and Kaleik Easton, 19, who the prosecutor said sold Cole the smack.
“This sale of heroin to the victim by these two individuals directly led to the overdose and death,” Molinelli said.
Three days later, he said, narcotics detectives with his office arranged a buy from the pair in Paramus, where Easton and Volpe sold an undercover officer 100 bags of heroin.
They were immediately arrested, along with 19-year-old Eric Carter, also of Paterson, who Molinelli said isn’t implicated in Cole’s death.
At the time, all three were charged with heroin distribution and sent to the Bergen County Jail by a judge.
Upgraded charges have since been filed against both Volpe and Easton: manslaughter, strict liability for a drug-induced death and conspiracy to distribute heroin. Their bail is $500,000 each, with a court appearance set for this Monday.
Molinelli in recent years has increasingly used a decades-old law that allows authorities to hold drug suppliers criminally liable when a user dies, in response to a surge in heroin overdoses and deaths. He has said he hopes the tactic gets the message across to street-level dealers that they could face long prison terms no matter how little they sell.
Last June, Molinelli’s detectives charged two men with causing the death of an Emerson heroin addict by giving her the fatal dose READ MORE ….
Three months earlier, a Mahwah man originally accused of putting what turned out to be a fatal dose of heroin into the hands of a 20-year-old Rockland County man was indicted by a Bergen County grand jury on manslaughter charges. READ MORE ….
In a rare coincidence, a Paterson man pleaded guilty today to similar charges in the death of a West Milford man from heroin he sold him. Prosecutors, in turn, agreed to a seven-year prison term.
Authorities statewide have rarely applied the law, which requires only that they prove a dealer sold the fatal dose — and not intent or even reckless disregard for life. It applies even if the victim is killed another way — say after being struck by a car — after ingesting the drugs.
It’s no slam dunk: Users ordinarily buy from different dealers.
MUGSHOTS: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
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