YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge today ordered that an Upper Saddle River man remain held on $750,000 bail in connection with the overdose death of a 19-year-old Ramsey man from a poly-drug mix that he passed off as heroin
Lawyers for Darius Ghahary – aka “Dash” – waived a reading of the charges against their client, entering not guilty pleas to all of the counts in the Hackensack courtroom.
Gharary exchanged a few words with the attorneys — Jonathan Bruno Sr. and his son, Jonathan Jr., and John Latoracca — but otherwise said nothing. He bowed his head through much of the proceeding and occasionally looked up at Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi.
The younger Bruno requested a bail reduction, which DeAvila-Silebi said would have to be made separately. He said he was working on that.
Ghahary is charged with his daughter, 19-year-old Alynn Ghahary, in connection with the death of Daniel Lajterman, also 19, from a lethal mixture of drugs.
The younger Ghahary, who had a first appearance in Ramsey Municipal Court last week, is charged with helping her father destroy evidence.
Earlier today, two men from Paterson had first appearances, as well, on charges of supplying a fatal dose of heroin to a 22-year-old Allendale man last January.
As with Ghahary, their attorneys entered not-guilty pleas. And like Ghahary, Timothy Volpe and Kaleik Easton said nothing during their brief hearing.
Both cases are rare: Although the statute has been on the books for many years, prosecutors don’t often charge dealers with the deaths of their customers.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, however, has made it a point in his nearly 12 years as prosecutor to pursue such cases, in part because how rampant heroin use has become among suburban youth — who have to drive no farther than Paterson or New York City to buy smack off the street.
The charge itself is called strict liability for a drug-induced death — a first-degree crime — which Molinelli’s office has paired with manslaughter.
In announcing the arrests of Ghahary and his daughter last Friday, Molinelli took the rare move of warning young people in North Jersey to beware of the drug mixture and not to use it.
The prosecutor said the elder Ghahary gave Lajterman the poly-drug substance he created using Fentanyl as one of the ingredients, the prosecutor said.
A synthetic opiate,Fentanyl is 80 times more potent than morphine, he said.
Detectives seized what Molinelli referred to as “large quantities” of Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Xanax, Adderall, Hydromorphone, synthetic THC, steroids, Molly (MDMA), pot and other drugs in power and pill form during raids at Ghahary’s house and several storage facilities last week.
“In addition, large quantities of packaging materials and cutting/mixing agents were found,” the prosecutor said. “It is believed that [Ghahary] used these controlled dangerous substances and associated cutting agents to concoct his own mixture of drugs which he purported to be heroin.”
Molinelli’s detectives and Ramsey police originally arrested Ghahary, 44, at his home a week ago yesterday and charged him with maintaining a drug manufacturing facility and distributing heroin. Bail at the time was $250,000.
As the investigation progressed, they added much more severe counts: strict liability for a drug-induced death and manslaughter, as well as hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence.
Lajterman was graduated last year from Ramsey High School, where he played football with Ghahary’s son.
Emergency service workers who found his lifeless body in his Roandis Court bedroom Feb. 23 believed that he’d died of a heroin overdose, Molinelli said.
Although Lajterman was believed to buying genuine heroin from Ghahary, he’d also received the fatal mixture, the prosecutor said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.