Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

RUMSON: MAN CHARGED IN OXFORD O.D.

oxford-rumson-2-011214-jpg-500x375-9390924The overdose death of an Oxford House resident has resulted in charges against a man described by authorities as an acquaintance.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been charged for allegedly supplying the heroin that led to the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House rehab facility last October, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Michael Renna, 25, was charged with one count of first degree strict liability for a drug-induced death and one count of third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.

News about the death of 25-year-old Christopher Pesce was the first that word that nearby residents had that the recovery residence had opened two months earlier in their residential corner of Rumson, and ignited a firestorm of objections.

It also led to a pair of countervailing lawsuits by the borough and Oxford House, litigation that now appears to be close to settlement.

The charges against Renna put responsibility for Pesce’s death on him, Gramiccioni said.

From the announcement:

Rumson police responded to Oxford House, at 61 South Ward Ave., on October 13, 2013, at approximately 8:15 p.m., where officers located the deceased victim.

Rumson police immediately launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Pesce’s death with toxicology results obtained during a postmortem examination concluding Pesce’s death was caused by Acute Heroin Toxicity. Rumson Police, in conjunction with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, continued the investigation and ultimately determined the victim obtained the fatal doses of heroin from Renna, an acquaintance, in Asbury Park on the night of October 12, 2013, leading to the charges filed against him.

If convicted of Strict Liability for Drug Induced Deaths, Renna faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA), requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for parole.

If convicted of Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, he faces a maximum of five years in a state prison Renna was being held Tuesday in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $210,000 bail, with no 10 percent option,

Anyone with information related to this investigation should contact Detective Christopher Isherwood of the Rumson Police Department at (732) 842-0500 or Detective Kevin Condon of the Monmouth Count Prosecutor’s Office at (800) 533-7443.

In the aftermath of that incident, and a second, non-fatal overdose at the house two months later, the borough sued Oxford House in state Superior Court, seeking temporary and permanent injunctions forcing Oxford House to vacate the house, which it leases from an entity owned by borough resident Charles Farkouh.

A month later, Oxford House filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that the town and borough Administrator Tom Rogers “interfered with operation and occupancy” of the residence.

A lawyer for Oxford House told redbankgreen at the time that Rumson’s response to community pressure by initiating state court action “absolutely” constituted a form of harassment against the organization.

Both actions appeared to be near settlement as of a week ago, Mayor John Ekdahl tells redbankgreen.

Under the terms of an arbitrated settlement, Rumson would concede that Oxford House has a federally-protected right to remain at its location. Federal courts have consistently deemed Oxford House and similar operations as akin to families who are thus exempt from boardinghouse ordinances and other other local rules that limit the number of unrelated persons sharing a house.

The proposed settlement followed an intensive day of arbitration, Ekdahl said. But Oxford House has since raised questions over two undisclosed elements of the deal, Ekdahl said. The house’s right to operate in town is not among the disputed matters, Ekdahl said.

Oxford’s suit against Rumson, meantime, has already been settled, according to documents on file in federal court in Newark. A judge dismissed the matter as having been “amicably resolved” on August 5.

Oxford House’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

 

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
DOUBLE DYLAN IN RED BANK
Trucks for a production company filming what one worker said was a Bob Dylan biography have lined Monmouth Street the past two days with cre ...
AFTER THE RAIN
A pear tree branch brought down by a brief overnight storm left a lovely tableau on the sidewalk in front of Red Bank's Riverside Gardens Pa ...
CONE OF UNCERTAINTY
Asked by a redbankgreen reporter why these cones were on top of cars, the owner of the car in the foreground responded: “That’s ...
RAIL RIDER’S VIEW
A commuter's view of Cooper's Bridge and the Navesink River from North Jersey Coast Line train 3320 out of Red Bank Tuesday morning.
PUT ME IN COACH!
Red Bank T-Ball kicked off at East Side park on Saturday morning. The brisk weather proved to be no deterrent to the young players, ranging ...
IT’S A SIGN!
Once proudly declaring its all-but-certain arrival in Spring 2019, the project previously known as Azalea Gardens springs to life again with ...
SPRINGTIME MEMORIES OF CARL
The Easter Bunny getup and St. Patrick’s Day hat that belonged to longtime Red Bank crossing guard and neighborhood smile-creator Carl ...
RED TRUCKS AT RED ROCK
A small dishwasher fire at Red Rock Tap and Grill was put out quickly by firefighters overnight, causing minimal damage. Red Bank Fire Depar ...
CREATIVE COVER UP
The windows of Pearl Street Consignment on Monmouth Street were smashed when a driver crashed their car through them injuring an employee la ...
THEY’RE BACK!
Ospreys returned to the skies over Red Bank this week for the first time since they migrated to warmer climes in late fall. With temperature ...
SPRING IS SPRUNG
RED BANK: Spring 2024 arrives on the Greater Red Bank Green with the vernal equinox at 11:06 p.m. Tuesday.
RED BANK’S FINEST – AND NEWEST
Red Bank Police Officer Eliot Ramos was sworn in as the force’s newest patrolman Thursday, and if you’re doing a double take thinkin ...
EASTER EGG MAYHEM AT THE PARK
An errant whistle spurred an unexpectedly early start to the Spring Egg Hunt on Sunday, which had been scheduled to begin at eggsactly 11am ...
PRESEASON DOCKWORK
RED BANK: With winter winding down, marina gets ready for boating season with some dockwork on our beautiful Navesink River.
CORNED BEEF AND DISCO FRIES?
It’s Friday, and smart Lent-observing Leprechauns know the pot of gold at the end of Red Bank’s rainbow is actually the deliciou ...
SURFBOARD DITCHED
It’s a violation of etiquette in surfing to ditch your board.  (it could hit another surfer and hurt them). But someone appears to ha ...
ELSIE, TAKE ME WITH YOU!
Soaked by pouring rain with the temperature hovering in the low 40’s, this sign in the window of Elsie’s Subs on Monmouth Street ...
WALK THIS WAY
PARTYLINE: Before-and-afters of a sidewalk cleanup on West Street.
SOGGY NOTION
RED BANK: Breezeway sculpture captured the mood downtown as heavy rains fell Saturday morning.
HOME DELIVERY
RED BANK: After a subdivision, an instant house rises on a new Catherine Street lot.