Westwood Man Charged With Killing High Schooler From Park Ridge With Fentanyl-Laced Pill

𝗨𝗣𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘: A 17-year-old Park Ridge boy was killed by a single imitation painkiller laced with fentanyl that was given to him by a Westwood man who's been charged with causing his death.

Jordan Clarke

Jordan Clarke

Photo Credit: BCJ

The boy thought he was taking an Oxycontin pill before he overdosed last Sept. 14, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said.

Officers who responded to the emergency call administered Narcan, among other life-saving measures, the prosecutor said.

The high school senior was pronounced dead a short time later.

Detectives from the prosecutor’s Narcotic Task Force determined during a six-month investigation that Jordan Clarke, 24, had given the victim a “fentanyl-laced counterfeit” Oxycodone pill that toxicology tests showed killed him, Musella said.

A potent, synthetic opioid, fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin -- and, as a result, is potentially fatal even in the tiniest of doses. Users and dealers often mix it with other drugs, authorities say.

The surge in overdoses and deaths has prosecutors throughout New Jersey holding drug dealers criminally liable. Bergen County has been a leader in that area.

Recent sentences have ranged from seven to 10 years for guilty pleas and significantly more for those defendants convicted at trial.

Authorities only have to prove that a dealer sold the fatal dose. They don't have to prove intent or even reckless disregard for life. It applies even if the victim is killed another way — say after being struck by a car — after ingesting the drugs.

Musella said his detectives arrested Clarke late last week after finding him staying with a relative in Paterson.

The unemployed defendant has remained in the Bergen County Jail since then, charged with strict liability for a drug-induced death, as well as selling both fentanyl and Xanax.

Clarke, it turns out, was arrested by Westwood police last November on charges of fencing stolen property. He was jailed for four days before being released, records show.

Daily Voice has withheld the victim's name because he was a juvenile.

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