August fentanyl overdose probe leads to arrest in Toms River
A Toms River man is accused of supplying the fentanyl that killed an overdose victim from Bayvillle last August.
Gregory Koc, 34, is charged with strict liability for drug-induced death regarding Kenneth Cook, 28, in K-Mart rest room on Route 35, according to the office of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.
Koc is also charged with manslaughter, distribution of fentanyl, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute and possession of fentanyl. He was arrested November 29 and remanded to the Ocean County Jail, with bail set at $350,000.
At about 9:55 PM on August 3, police summoned to the store found Cook unresponsive. He was pronounced dead within 10 minutes. Signs of an overdose led to the involvement of the Prosecutor's Major Crimes Unit and the Ocean County Sheriff's Criminal Investigations Unit.
Ocean County's opiate-related death toll this year alone, by Coronato's figures, stands at 180, prompting him to sound an alarm for what he calls a new "Synthetic Storm," imploring residents to help turn then County into a "No-Dealer Zone."
"Dealers who are relentless in their efforts to profit from the misery and deaths of others have now resorted to dealing deadly doses laced with powerful synthetic opiates in order to combat our initiatives and to increase their addictive grip on users," Coronato said in prepared remarks. "Law Enforcement cannot address this evil alone."
Coronato emphasized that, since his appointment in 2013, the county's opiate crisis has been his priority. Strict liability charges rank among the legal weapons he pioneered. Among the supporting initiatives he cited, many unprecedented in New Jersey, are:
- Drug forums, attended by more than 10,000 people
- Narcan administered by police, Narcan in high schools, and Narcan reversal after-care
- "Right Turns" drug education videos, many featuring local teens and professionally produced
- K9 teams in middle and high schools
- The free MYPD App
- The Angel Program
- A reorganized Special Operations Drug Enforcement Group
- Revised mandated overdose investigation procedures
- Charges against health care professionals who provide prescription medications illegally
- Unused prescription drop-off points.
- Stricter drug statute legislation and drug statistics tracking
- The pawnshop stolen-merchandise database
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.