SNOW HILL – An Ocean City man indicted by a Worcester County grand jury last fall for his part in the drug overdose fatality of a woman found in her resort home pleaded guilty this week to distribution of a controlled dangerous substance-methadone and was sentenced to eight years in jail.
Joshua Lee Gruber, 25, of Ocean City, was indicted by a grand jury in November on distribution of CDS and reckless endangerment charges after an investigation revealed he played a role in the death of Nicole Marie Dudas, 22, who was found dead in her north Ocean City residence two months earlier. For a time, the grand jury considered adding murder or manslaughter charges against Gruber pending the outcome of Dudas’ final toxicology report.
A full autopsy determined she died from an overdose of cocaine, methadone and alcohol. The toxicology report contributed the cause of death to controlled dangerous substance intoxication, but further specifics were not noted.
Ocean City police were called to Dudas’ residence in Montego Bay on Oct. 5 where they found the victim deceased. Police became suspicious of Gruber when it was confirmed the two were partying together with friends in the resort two days prior to the discovery of the victim’s body.
Throughout the investigation, detectives interviewed a handful of people, including Gruber, who knew the victim and/or were known to be partying with her prior to her death. The investigation revealed Gruber, Dudas and two other friends were all together at Gruber’s residence on Bea Lane in Ocean City. The group was drinking for most of the day when the two witnesses left Gruber and Dudas alone and went to buy more alcohol.
It was during this time investigators believe Dudas ingested the drugs that ultimately caused her fatal overdose. Gruber told inve Dudas repeatedly asked him for some of his prescribed methadone, a synthetic narcotic less addictive than heroin and morphine often used as a substitute for those drugs in treatment programs.
Gruber told police during the investigation he initially declined Dudas’ requests for methadone, but, after repeated requests, relented and provided the victim with the prescription medicine that at least contributed to her death. Two months later, the grand jury indicted Gruber on distribution and reckless endangerment charges after the toxicology report could not specifically attribute the cause of death to methadone. If the methadone had been pinpointed as the sole contributor to her death, Gruber could have been charged with murder.