A Long Branch man has been charged with the first-degree crime of strict liability for drug-induced death in connection with a February overdose, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.
Lateef Reevey, 31, of Long Branch, was charged in connection with the fatal overdose death of 25 year-old Lucy Yardley of Flanders, New Jersey, who died in Tinton Falls on Feb. 21, 2020.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9 law, a person who distributes a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) is strictly liable for a death which results from the injection, inhalation or ingestion of that substance. In addition to that charge, Reevey was also charged with third-degree distribution of CDS.
The case background …
On Feb. 21 at 6:07 p.m., the Tinton Falls Police Department received a report of a possible overdose victim in a local motel room. The responding officers found the victim, Yardley, lying on the bathroom floor of her room. She was unconscious and not breathing. Despite the efforts of the Tinton Falls police, First Aid Squad, and the MONOC Paramedics, Yardley was pronounced dead.
An investigation was launched into the victim’s death and the origins of the heroin that was ingested by her. The investigation by the Tinton Falls Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office ultimately identified Reevey as having communicated with the victim the day prior.
On Feb. 22, as a result of their investigation, police located Reevey in the parking lot of the same local motel. Reevey was found to be in possession of a quantity of heroin and cocaine, packaged for sale, as well as two cell phones.
Upon approach by police, Reevey broke one of the two phones, which he had used to communicate with the victim two days earlier. He was arrested and charged with two counts of third-degree possession of CDS, two counts of third-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, one count of third-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, one count of fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence and the disorderly persons offense of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police continued their investigation while awaiting the results of the autopsy, which was conducted by the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. As a result, Reevey was charged with the strict liability for drug-Induced death charge and distribution of CDS to the victim.
If convicted of the first-degree charge, Reevey faces up to 20 years in New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act (N.E.R.A.), requiring him to serve 85 percent of any sentence prior to release. On the third-degree charges, Reevey faces up to five years in a New Jersey state prison.