Burlington Co., NJ, Prosecutor: 19-year-old Drug Dealer Charged in the Death of Teen Customer
Authorities say a 19-year-old drug dealer from Burlington County has been arrested and charged in connection to the death of one of his high school-aged customers.
Zachary DiBattista of Cinnaminson was charged earlier this month with first-degree strict liability for drug-induced death. He was taken into custody Wednesday, according to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
An investigation began last March when officers from the Medford Township Police Department were called to a home for the report of an unattended death. There, they found the body of 18-year-old Max Mather in his bedroom.
The Burlington County medical examiner determined that Mather died from fentanyl toxicity. He also noted the presence of Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer not approved for human use.
According to Coffina's office,
"Mather fatally overdosed on pills he had purchased from DiBattista a day earlier at a Marlton convenience store during a meeting that was arranged on Snapchat. The investigation further revealed that Mather was purchasing what he believed to be Oxycontin pills, when in reality he was provided with counterfeit controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) containing fentanyl that were designed to resemble authentic oxycodone 30 mg tablets."
“One of the most tragic aspects of the unrelenting substance use disorder epidemic is how young overdose victims tend to be. In this case, the victim was only 18 and still in high school, with his whole life ahead of him. He presumably thought he was taking a prescription drug that would not harm him, and it is nearly impossible for the untrained eye to distinguish a ‘real’ Oxycontin pill from a counterfeit one."
DiBattista is currently being held in the Burlington County Jail pending a detention hearing in Superior Court.
The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.