Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on December 9, 2019, Charles Rice, 58, of Lacey Township, pleaded guilty to Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4, as well as Distribution of Heroin and Fentanyl in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3), before the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C.  At the time of sentencing on February 14, 2020, the State will recommend that Rice be sentenced to seven years in New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) on the Manslaughter charge subject to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.  The State will also recommend that Rice be sentenced to six years NJSP with a three-year-period of parole ineligibility relative to the Drug Distribution charge.  The sentences are to run concurrently.

On Sunday, April 21, 2019, Berkeley Township Police were summoned to a residence for a report of an unresponsive male who was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and the Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau revealed that Rice had sold the victim a mixture of Heroin and Fentanyl — the ingestion of which was determined to be the cause of the victim’s death.

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the diligence of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill who handled the case on behalf of the State.  Prosecutor Billhimer likewise extends his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy, Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit for their collaborative assistance in bringing Rice to justice.