OCEAN COUNTY - A man accused of selling drugs that led to a deadly overdose has been charged with manslaughter in the case.
The case against Kenneth Novak marks the third time this year the Ocean County prosecutor has filed criminal charges in connection with this type of death.
In the past, when a person overdosed on heroin, crack, prescription pills or other drugs, authorities would wait for toxicology reports before investigating. Now they are collecting evidence in the event it turns out to be criminal.
READ MORE: New Jersey Crime Stories
The prosecutor says the message to drug dealers is that they will be held accountable for the tragic consequences of selling drugs.
This year, three alleged drug dealers, Novak, of Whiting, Rasan McGee of Atlantic City, and Kenneth Staunton have been charged in the overdose deaths of people they're accused of selling to.
"McGee is charged in a heroin overdose death in Barnegat. Staunton is charged for one in Lacey. As for Novak, he's been charged with manslaughter in the death of a man from Stafford who died after taking prescription pain pills," says Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato.
Nearly twice as many people as last year have died of drug overdoses in Ocean County. So far, there have been 96 deaths.