Ocean County Man Charged with Drug-Induced Deaths

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Berkeley Township Police Chief Karin DiMichele today announced the arrest of Cody Lessing, 25, of Bayville, in connection with the drug-induced deaths of James Tice Jr. and Keith Tandberg.

“Prosecutor Coronato stated, “OCPO will continue to lead the way in developing Strict Liability/Drug-Induced Death cases. It’s critical during this opiate crisis we take strong punitive measures against dealers bringing death to those fighting addictions”.

According to authorities, on May 15th, police charged Cody Lessing with Strict Liability Drug-Induced Death (2 counts), Manslaughter (2 counts), Possession with the Intent to Distribute Heroin and Fentanyl (2 count), Possession of Heroin and Fentanyl (2 counts) and Distribution of Heroin and Fentanyl (2 counts).

Officials said Lessing is currently incarcerated in the Ocean County Correctional Facility since February 25, 2018, on prior narcotic drug charges about the same incident.

The above charges stem from the death investigation of James Tice Jr. and Keith Tandberg that occurred on Feb. 25th in the Township of Berkeley. On that date, the Berkeley Township Police Department responded to two separate 911 calls within seven hours of each other for unresponsive males within their jurisdiction. Police said Tandberg, 45, of Berkeley was found unresponsive and pronounced deceased just after midnight and Tice, 28, also of Berkeley was later found unresponsive and pronounced dead in the early morning hours of the same day.

Officials said Berkeley Officers at both scenes, observing signs of a drug overdose, immediately, per the Prosecutor’s directive, contacted the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Unit to respond.

The ensuing intensive investigation would ultimately lead back to Lessing and link him to both deaths. An autopsy by the Ocean County Medical Examiner would confirm that Tandberg and Tice’s deaths were drug-induced due to lethal doses of heroin combined with fentanyl.

The public is reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.