Warwick couple cleared of first degree drug-induced death charges

Couple accused of supplying heroin that killed 25-year-old Warwick man

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A judge ruled to dismiss the first degree drug-induced death charges against a Warwick couple accused of buying heroin in Paterson, N.J., and then supplying the heroin that killed a 25-year-old Warwick man in April 2016, according to published reports.

Superior Court Judge Scott Bennion decided to dismiss the New Jersey state drug-induced death charges against Anthony Potts, 27 at the time of his arrest, and Noel Ferguson, 20 at the time of her arrest, both of Warwick, according to reports. The judge also reportedly decided to leave in place the first-degree drug-death charge against the Paterson dealer, Shameik Byrd, 26 at the time of his arrest, who allegedly sold the heroin to Potts and Ferguson, both of which are still alive.

Messages left at the New Jersey Attorney General’s office were not returned by press time, but the office reportedly plans to appeal Bennion’s dismissal of the drug-induced death charges against Potts and Ferguson.

If convicted of the drug-induced death charge, Potts and Ferguson face 10 to 20 years in prison under New Jersey State law.

The three are charged in connection with the death of Kean Cabral, 25, of Warwick. Cabral was found dead inside his home on the morning of April 3, 2016, as a result of a heroin overdose.

Working across state linesThe arrests stemmed from a joint investigation conducted with the New York Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the Warwick Police Department and the Passaic County, N.J., Sheriff’s Office.

The New York Attorney General’s Office had enlisted the aid of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office in a prior case as a result of their existing partnership on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Heroin Task Force, a task force of state attorneys general that is promoting collaboration to fight heroin trafficking.

Through task force discussions, the New York prosecutors were aware of New Jersey’s strict liability drug-induced death statute and the potential to prosecute a drug dealer for a first-degree crime based on an overdose death.

April 3Warwick police initiated an investigation on April 3 when they responded to Cabral’s home at approximately 8 a.m. on an emergency call after he was found unresponsive. Cabral was found slumped over the end of a bed in his bedroom.

Officers found a syringe at the scene, along with eight glassine envelopes of suspected heroin stamped “Trap Queen” in red ink — a reference to a song by Paterson rapper Fetty Wap — and nine empty glassine envelopes with the same stamp.

Cabral was pronounced dead at the scene. The Orange County Medical Examiner determined that Cabral died of a heroin overdose.

Through their investigation, the Warwick Police developed information that Potts and Ferguson allegedly sold Cabral the heroin that caused his death and they had been traveling to Paterson to purchase heroin.

Three days laterThe Warwick Police and the New York Attorney General’s Office — who had worked with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office on a prior multi-state strict liability case — enlisted those New Jersey partners again to assist in the investigation.

Following an alert from the Warwick Police, detectives from the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office set up surveillance in Paterson on April 6 and allegedly observed Potts and Ferguson obtaining heroin in a hand-to-hand drug transaction on East 34th Street.

The detectives stopped the couple’s vehicle and Potts and Ferguson were arrested after Ferguson voluntarily turned over approximately 50 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin stamped “Trap Queen” in red ink.

Further investigation revealed that Potts and Ferguson allegedly sold multiple glassine envelopes of heroin stamped “Trap Queen” to Cabral on both April 1 and April 2, immediately prior to his death, and that they allegedly had obtained the heroin in Paterson from Byrd.

In addition to the first-degree charge of strict liability for drug-induced death, Byrd, Potts and Ferguson face third-degree charges of distribution of heroin and conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Potts is reportedly being held at the Passaic County Jail on $200,000 bail, while Ferguson has reportedly already been released.

Byrd is reportedly serving a four-year prison sentence at Southern State Correctional Facility after being convicted in Superior Court in Bergen County last year in an unrelated heroin case.

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