Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Charles Rice, 58, of Lacey Township, was sentenced today by the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C., to seven years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as a result of a guilty plea to Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4.  Rice must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.  Additionally, Rice was sentenced by Judge Gizinski to six years NJSP with a three-year period of parole ineligibility as a result to his guilty plea to 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).  The sentences will run concurrently.  Rice pled guilty to both charges on December 9, 2019.

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.

“This particular defendant sold heroin that contained fentanyl, which ultimately caused the victim’s death.  We have been very clear that we will continue to arrest and prosecute individuals that pedal illegal and sometimes deadly narcotics in Ocean County,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. 

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill who ably 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 Victim/Witness Advocacy Unit, Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit for their collaborative assistance resulting in Rice’s lengthy prison sentence.