A 31-year-old area man pleaded guilty last Thursday to the first-degree crime of strict liability for drug-induced death in connection with a February overdose death, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said on Friday.
The man Lateef Reevey, 31, of Long Branch, pleaded guilty to the charge in connection with the fatal overdose death of 25 year-old Lucy Yardley of Flanders, who died on Feb. 21.
By pleading guilty, Reevey indicated that he provided Yardley with the heroin stamped “Eternity” and that the heroin/fentanyl mixture caused her death.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9, 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.
Reevey is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 9, 2021 in front of Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas. The state is recommending a six-year term in a NJ state prison, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA).
In addition to that charge, Reevey also pleaded guilty to a third-degree conspiracy to possess CDS, for an unrelated matter, for which he will receive five years, to run concurrently in prison.
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 located the victim, Lucy Yardley, lying on the bathroom floor of her room. She was unconscious and not breathing. Despite the efforts of the Tinton Falls Police Department, the Tinton Falls First Aid Squad, and the MONOC Paramedics, Yardley was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation was immediately launched into the victim’s death and the origins of the heroin that she ingested. 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 found 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 taken into custody 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. Once the autopsy linked Yardley’s death to the ingestion of heroin-fentanyl, Reevey was then charged with strict liability for drug-induced death and distribution of CDS to the victim.
— Edited press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office