Investigation into Cooper Health CEO's death linked to criminal charge against his son

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Nearly two years after they were found unresponsive in their home, questions remain regarding the deaths of John Sheridan, president and CEO of Cooper University Health System in Camden, N.J., and his wife Joyce.

The investigation is now at the center of a criminal case against the Sheridans' 42-year-old son Matthew, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Sheridans were found unresponsive in the master suite of their home in Skillman, N.J., on Sept. 28, 2014. The room had been set on fire. Mr. Sheridan, 72, died at the scene, and his wife was pronounced dead at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (N.J.).

In March 2015, the deaths were ruled murder-suicide. Geoffrey Soriano, the Somerset County prosecutor at the time, concluded that Mr. Sheridan fatally stabbed his wife, set fire to their home and stabbed himself five times.

The Sheridan family immediately responded to the murder-suicide conclusion, telling the media the ruling was a means to close the investigation and cover up the incompetence of those in the prosecutor's office and medical examiner's office, according to The Inquirer.    

The family hired a forensic pathologist who performed a second autopsy on Mr. Sheridan. Based partly on the fact that authorities never found the weapon that caused his wounds, the pathologist concluded it was more likely Mr. Sheridan was killed in an attack.

Now, lawyers for Matthew Sheridan claim he is facing a drug charge because the family publicly criticized the investigation of the deaths.

Police searched Matthew Sheridan's vehicle the day his parents died and found a small amount of cocaine. He was indicted on a cocaine possession charge in April 2016.

In a memorandum filed Tuesday, Matthew Sheridan's lawyers request the drug charge be dismissed. They claim authorities lacked probable cause to search the vehicle and that Somerset County officials promised Matthew would not be prosecuted as long as he cooperated with the death investigation.

"The state retaliated against Matthew Sheridan for his family's public criticism of Somerset County Prosecutor's Office handling of his parents' death investigation," the memorandum states. "This type of vindictive prosecution is discriminatory and unconstitutional."

According to the memorandum, Mr. Soriano told Matthew Sheridan's brother that Matthew would not be prosecuted. There is also an affidavit attached from Matthew Sheridan's uncle, which states an assistant prosecutor told him in January 2015 that his nephew would not be prosecuted.

Somerset County's prosecutor declined The Philadelphia Inquirer's request for comment.

More articles on healthcare industry lawsuits:

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