Alleged Drug Dealer Indicted For Fentanyl Overdose Death

By Maggie Ethridge 10/11/18

Calvin Warren Jr. is the first person to be arrested and charged under a new Florida law.

Man sitting in a jail cell

A new Florida law regarding the prosecution of drug dealers, signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2017, has gone into effect. The law expanded the state’s first-degree murder code to include adults who sell a lethal dose of fentanyl.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Calvin Warren Jr., 35, was arrested on first-degree murder charges in the overdose death of 36-year-old Thomas Matuseski. Warren is the first person to be arrested and charged under the new law.

Thomas Matuseski died on January 28 after ingesting fentanyl; Warren is accused of providing the deadly drug. Warren remains in the Palm Beach County Jail without the possibility of parole. The indictment against him states that he caused Matuseski’s death “unlawfully from a premeditated design.”

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office announced that Warren distributed heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. On January 28, Matuseski’s roommate found him collapsed on his bedroom floor in Boynton Beach, according to city police records. Matuseski’s friend called 911 but the Boynton rescue crews were unable to resuscitate him.

Police reported no sign of drugs or paraphernalia in Matuseski’s home on Citrus Park Lane, and it was not announced how Warren was suspected to be linked to Matuseski’s death. Police records do show that Warren was arrested in February on a case that remains open and includes multiple drug-related charges.

Greg Newburn, Florida’s state policy director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, told The Daily Beast, “Most deaths we’ve seen since the rise of fentanyl in Florida have been a mixture of heroin and fentanyl.”

Florida’s new law does not account for the mixture of drugs or if the dealer claims to have known they were using fentanyl. If a drug mixture containing any amount of fentanyl is involved in the drug user’s death, the dealer can be charged with first-degree murder, a charge for which “the only two sentences available are life without parole and the death penalty,” Newburn said.

“We will aggressively charge drug dealers who spread fentanyl-laced heroin into our community,” Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said in a statement, as reported in The Palm Beach Post. “We will use all tools provided us by the Florida Legislature to hold drug dealers accountable for causing the deaths of others.” 

Thomas Matuseski was a New York native, and according to his obituary was remembered as a loving father and son who loved sports.

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.