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Two Riverhead men charged in connection with four 2021 fatal overdose deaths on the North Fork

A pair of Riverhead men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly selling the cocaine and fentanyl that led to four overdose deaths on the North Fork last Aug. 13, court records show

Marquis Douglas, 36, and Jesse Pace, 38, are accused of conspiring to distribute fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine over a seven-year period, according to the indictment and a press release from the Eastern District Court of New York.

The four overdoses were among a string of drug-related deaths on the North Fork and Shelter Island in the span of just one week last summer.

“The defendants’ drug sales caused four overdose deaths in a single day last summer, contributing to the tragic history of the opioid epidemic that has claimed too many lives on Long Island,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.  “Dealing deadly drugs in this district will be met with severe consequences.  At the same time, we are working to reduce the availability of these drugs and prevent new addictions in our efforts to save lives.  It is our hope that the federal prosecution of Douglas and Pace will bring some solace to the families of the four victims who died as a result of the defendants’ actions.” 

A seven-count indictment handed down May 26 and unsealed at the federal courthouse in Central Islip Thursday alleges the two men sold cocaine laced with fentanyl in Greenport on Aug. 12, 2021. Prosecutors said the drugs were redistributed to the four overdose victims the following day.

The indictment accuses the two men of engaging in a conspiracy to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of heroin, 280 grams of crack cocaine, 40 grams of fentanyl and a quantity of a fentanyl analogue over the past seven years.

The men are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and other similar charges, including four related specifically to each of the overdose deaths.

Jesse Pace in a 2015 police mug shot.

Mr. Pace was arrested and arraigned Thursday. Mr. Douglas was already in federal custody after he was arrested on drug charges in Suffolk County on May 5. He will be arraigned at a later date.

Mr. Peace said the investigation involved law enforcement resources from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. He also thanked the Riverhead Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

“Tragically, as overdose deaths continue to rise, people are still peddling these poisons into our communities,” added Michael Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office. “Fortunately our focus on the illegal drug epidemic hasn’t waned, and bringing Douglas and Pace to justice shows our pursuit of these dealers hasn’t either.”

District Attorney Ray Tierney added that “while in federal custody, [Mr. Pace and Mr. Douglas] will no longer be able to sell fentanyl and other dangerous drugs to unwitting customers and pose a danger to the community.”

The indictment of Mr. Pace and Mr. Douglas does not identify by name any of the four overdose victims they are accused of supplying drugs to.

Lavain Creighton of Greenport was previously arrested in connection with the overdose deaths last August of Swainson Brown of Shelter Island and Matthew Lapiana of East Marion. He is due back in court June 30.