A convicted felon stands accused of first-degree murder after a deadly drug deal, marking a first in Palm Beach County under a new Florida law.
Calvin Warren Jr., 35, has been indicted on the murder charge after Thomas “Tommy” Matuseski overdosed from the fentanyl that Warren provided, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said in a news release Friday.
First-degree murder is a capital felony that carries a potential punishment of life in prison or the death penalty. Warren’s arrest is the first time Aronberg’s office has relied on a law that was recently enacted in Florida to crack down on fentanyl trafficking.
“As part of our focus on the opioid epidemic, which claimed 642 lives in Palm Beach County last year, we will aggressively charge drug dealers who spread deadly fentanyl-laced heroin into our community,” Aronberg said in a statement. “We will use all tools provided us by the Florida Legislature to hold drug dealers accountable for causing the deaths of others.”
On Thursday, the prosecutor’s office secured the indictment against Warren, charging him with the illegal distribution of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. On Friday, a judge ordered Warren to remain jailed without bond.
Additional details about the allegations against Warren, and how he encountered Matuseski, weren’t available late Friday.
Matuseski, who died on Jan. 28, was valued at his workplace, Banyan Treatment Center, which provides addiction treatment. The center has several locations in South Florida, as well as other parts of the country.
He “was a great guy who worked for Banyan Treatment Center as a client care coordinator for several months,” said Allison Seriani, a Banyan spokeswoman. “He answered calls in our call center and would take down callers’ information to coordinate admission times for incoming patients. He was always willing to lend a hand and was a very likable guy.”
“The news of his death shocked us all. He showed up to work on time, worked well with everyone and got his work done. This tragedy is exactly what we, at Banyan, try to combat every day; another senseless overdose.”
Matuseski’s family couldn’t be reached for comment Friday despite phone calls.
State records show Warren has an extensive criminal history, which includes serving prison time for felony battery and being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition.
In the new case against him, he was detained after a joint investigation by multiple agencies, which have been working together to try to reduce the number of opioid overdoses, Aronberg’s office said.
Florida has moved forward with stiffer penalties to hold drug dealers accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law last year that increases the penalties for fentanyl possession, including charging drug dealers with murder if customers die from the potent painkiller.
Sometimes, customers don’t even know they’re getting fentanyl, because the opioid has been mixed in with other drugs.
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