A Burlington Township drug dealer has been charged with causing the overdose death of a man inside his home last year, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Florence Township Police Chief Brian Boldizar, announced on Tuesday.

Marques A. Palmer, 26, of the first block of Rose Lane, is charged with Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death (First Degree), Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Third Degree) and Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Third Degree) for providing a man with counterfeit prescription drugs laced with fentanyl.

Florence Township Police responded to a home on Fifth Avenue in the Roebling section of town in April of 2021 on a report of an unconscious man, who was later identified as 29-year old Johnathon Mariano.

The autopsy performed by Burlington County Medical Examiner, Dr. Ian Hood, ruled that the death was due to fentanyl toxicity after Mariano overdosed on pills he bought from Palmer.

Police executed a search warrant at Palmer's residence and found, and seized, $10,500 in cash as well as more than 1,000 pills, that the Burlington County Forensic Science Lab determined contained fentanyl in them.

They were blue pills stamped with "M-30" as a way of saying they were oxycodone 30 mg tablets, which they weren't, they were counterfeit, and were laced with fentanyl that killed Mariano.

Palmer surrendered for his arrest on January 25 and has been in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly, ever since, pending a detention hearing in Superior Court.

“Counterfeit prescription drugs are usually indistinguishable from the medicine we purchase from a pharmacy, with a doctor’s prescription,” Prosecutor Coffina said in a statement. “This is what makes them so dangerous, as it is impossible to tell whether a pill contains the medication that is sought, or instead, a lethal dose of fentanyl. We see too often in these tragic cases that simply experimenting with presumed prescription drugs obtained from some secondary source can be deadly. We urge everyone only to take medication that is prescribed by a physician and obtained from a licensed pharmacy.”

Palmer will be prosecuted by Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Angermeier, supervisor of the BCPO Gang, Gun and Narcotics Task Force (GGNTF).

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