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EDISON, NJ—Emile Constable Jr., a 25-year-old resident of Edison was indicted by a grand jury sitting in New Brunswick for his role in distributing heroin that killed another man, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors say that the man sold 10 one-gram bags of heroin to the dead man, identified as 23-year-old Edison resident Aniq Ali in the first of two press releases issued by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO) on the subject.
In addition to other charges Constable now a faces first-degree charge in connection with the heroin overdose, under New Jersey's "strict liability for drug induced death" law.
Constable was also indicted on the following charges:
- third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance
- third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance
- third-degree possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance
- third-degree hindering
- fourth-degree hindering
The charges were handed up in New Brunswick during a presentation to the grand jury by Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai.
"Constable was arrested on February 25, 2016 after toxicological testing showed that the victim, subsequently died on February 24, 2016 after ingesting fentanyl and heroin," reads the August 9 press release on the indictment.
But law enforcement only charged Constable with heroin possession and possession "with intent to distribute" at the time. He also had been charged with possession with intent to distribute in an unrelated case.
Almost two months later, after the MCPO filed the more serious charge against Constable, the agency's spokesperson sent out a press release prematurely.
On April 20, the MCPO public information officer James O'Neill sent a press release to more than 75 members of the media announcing Constable's arrest, including the defendant's nickname: "Oatmeal."
But, 25 minutes later, O'Neill wrote everyone back with the subject line "ERROR IN PRESS RELEASE"
"If at all possible, please HOLD the press release I recently sent to you on Emile 'Oatmeal' Constable," wrote O'Neill in the follow-up statement. "He has not yet been arrested. Once he is in custody, I will resend the press release."
"I appreciate it if you can hold the release until further notice. Afterward, if you want to report that I blundered, feel free to do so."
New Brunswick Today obtained the release, and the subsequent email, despite all of our reporters being removed from the MCPO's media list in February.
No media outlet opted to report on O'Neill's April 20 blunder until now. O'Neill's second press release focused on the indictment against Constable, and did not use his nickname.
Constable was released from county jail after posting $100,000 bail on May 19, according to the jail's records department.
Prosecutor Andrew Carey said that Ali's death is "a grim reminder of the dangers of heroin, the use of which has risen among young people in recent years."
“To protect our citizens, law enforcement must target those who selfishly profit from dealing drugs, and are responsible for the violence and deaths which are part of the illegal drug trade,” Prosecutor Carey said.
The new charge was filed during an investigation by Detective Theodore Hamer of the Edison Police Department and Detective Wayne Canastra and Detective David Abromaitis, both of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
The investigation is "active and is continuing," according to the MCPO. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Abromaitis at (732) 745-4436.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.