A son of the late Cooper University Health System CEO John P. Sheridan has been indicted on a single count of drug possession for cocaine found in his car the day his parents died in 2014.
Matthew Sheridan, 41, of Montgomery Township, Somerset County, had been arrested Sept. 28, 2014, after authorities searched his vehicle at the family's home and found cocaine and a scale in the car, according to law enforcement records.
Early that morning, his parents were found dead, both stabbed, in the couple's master bedroom that intentionally had been set on fire.
At the time, Matthew Sheridan lived with his parents in the Skillman home. That weekend, he was with friends on Fishers Island in New York.
Sheridan declined comment.
He was indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury within the last two weeks after the case was transferred from Somerset County last year. The case will be heard in Somerset County but prosecuted by Middlesex County.
Matthew Sheridan's attorney, Henry Klingeman, said Tuesday that Somerset officials had promised they would not charge his client because of the circumstances of his parents' deaths.
"Unambiguously they said they were not going to pursue criminal charges against Matt - ever," Klingeman said, noting that the case resurfaced only after the Sheridan family publicly criticized Somerset officials, alleging investigators prematurely decided murder-suicide and ignored evidence that suggested both parents were murdered.
John Sheridan, 72, was planning his retirement from Cooper while his wife, Joyce, 69, had already retired as a teacher.
After a six-month investigation, in March 2015, the prosecutor at the time, Geoffrey Soriano, issued a news release that concluded the deaths were murder-suicide, citing, in part, that there was no forced entry into the house and no evidence of an intruder.
The Sheridan sons blasted Soriano's findings. Investigators never found the weapon that caused the five stab wounds to John Sheridan's neck and torso, which is highly unusual in a suicide.
Matthew's twin brother, Mark, a prominent Republican attorney, said at the time that Soriano concluded the deaths were murder-suicide to hide the incompetency of his office.
On Tuesday, Mark Sheridan said: "Geoff Soriano told me in a telephone conversation that the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office would not be prosecuting Matt. That position only changed months later when we attacked the conclusions reached in the report issued by the prosecutor's office."
In May 2015, Somerset officials transferred Matthew Sheridan's case to Middlesex County to eliminate any "conflict or appearance of conflict" due to potential civil litigation by the Sheridan family.
The sons have petitioned the medical examiner to overturn the conclusion that their father committed suicide. The case is pending.
Gov. Christie said he lost faith in Soriano and removed him from office after Soriano completed a six-year term. He was replaced last month by a federal prosecutor, Mike Robertson. Robertson has not yet commented on the case.
Capt. Jack Bennett, a spokesman for the Somerset Prosecutor's Office, said Tuesday that there would be no comment regarding allegations that the Sheridans were told Matthew Sheridan would not be prosecuted on the drug charges, or that the prosecution is retaliation.
Klingeman, a former prosecutor, said when he was told by Somerset's assistant prosecutor Robert Hawkes that Matthew Sheridan would not be prosecuted, that was as "good as gold."
Klingeman said there was no justification to search Sheridan's car and "we're going to make a motion to suppress the evidence."
If convicted, Matthew Sheridan could face three to five years. Klingeman said with a first offense, there is the presumption of no incarceration.
The indictment, Klingeman said, is "more abusive treatment" of the Sheridans.
"Matt was living a quiet and reputable life when this tragedy occurred, and now the prosecutor is doubling down on the horror to this family."