Wednesday, February 26, 2020

U.S. Department Of Justice To Appeal District Court Ruling Regarding Drug Injection Sites

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information.
PHILADELPHIA – A federal judge ruled today that a nonprofit seeking to open a facility in Philadelphia for the injection of illegal drugs would not violate a federal drug law known commonly as the federal “crack house statute.”  The decision by United States District Court Judge Gerald A. McHugh in favor of nonprofit Safehouse makes final a prior ruling and paves the way for a showdown on appeal.
“We respectfully disagree with the District Court’s ruling and plan to appeal immediately,” said United States Attorney William M. McSwain. “What Safehouse proposes is a radical experiment that would invite thousands of people onto its property for the purpose of injecting illegal drugs. In our view, this would plainly violate the law and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.”
The application of the law in question, which prohibits any person from maintaining a place for the purpose of illegal drug use, is hotly contested. Safehouse contends that allowing illegal drug use on its property is necessary to prevent overdoses. The so-called “supervised injection site” proposed by Safehouse would be the first of its kind in the United States.
This effort is staunchly opposed by a growing number of federal authorities, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Surgeon General. In anticipation of this ruling, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen published an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this month, condemning Safehouse’s plan and committing to an appeal. Last month, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams cautioned, “I have looked at the data,” and “we want to optimize the things that we know work before we start having conversations about more controversial interventions.”
Community groups in neighborhoods where Safehouse is rumored to be considering opening an injection site have also objected. “We believe that Safehouse’s proposed activity threatens to institutionalize the scourge of illegal drug use – and all the problems that come with it – in Philadelphia neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “In light of these concerns, Safehouse should act prudently and not rush to open while the appeal is pending. But if it does rush forward, my Office will evaluate all options available under the law.”
While no timeline has yet been set for the appeal, the United States will seek an expedited ruling from the Third Circuit.

Doctor Described As ‘Candy Man’ And ‘El Chapo Of Opioids’ Admits Distributing Opioids To Patients

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey released the below information:

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County doctor today admitted distributing opioids without a legitimate medical reason and falsifying medical records to cover it up, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Robert Delagente, 45, of Oakland, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled dangerous substances, three counts of distribution of controlled dangerous substances, and one count of falsifying medical records.
“This defendant knowingly prescribed for his patients some of the most dangerous and addictive drugs available, sometimes with no more contact than a text message from the patient,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “Many of these patients were dealing with pain and addiction, and instead of getting help from their doctor, they were drawn deeper into the cycle of drug abuse. His admission of guilt today ensures that he will be appropriately punished for this behavior.”
“Dr. Delagente sold his ethics, his medical license, and his moral compass,” FBI-Newark Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said. “There is no magic elixir for the pain caused by pill mill doctors. The cure is public awareness, victims who come forward and a determined fleet of FBI investigators who will arrest these unscrupulous practitioners when they run afoul of the law.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Beginning in May 2014, Delagente was a doctor at a medical practice called North Jersey Family Medicine (NJFM) in Oakland, New Jersey. He allegedly described himself in conversations pertaining to his prescribing of painkillers as the “Candy Man” and the “El Chapo of Opioids.” Delagente knowingly prescribed controlled substances, such as oxycodone, Percocet, Tylenol with codeine, and various benzodiazepines (alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam, and temazepam), outside the ordinary course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. He ignored the inherent danger and medical risk of overdose, drug abuse, and death that can accompany prescriptions of highly addictive opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxers, both on their own and in combination with one another.
Delagente prescribed controlled substances without ever seeing the purported patient for a medical visit or even discussing with the patient the medical need for the prescription. He allowed patients to ask him for controlled substances via text message and would write a prescription for patients that he would leave at the front desk, without requiring an office visit or consultation of any kind. He allowed patients to dictate the strength and dosage of the controlled substances he prescribed for them. Delagente also prescribed the dangerous drug combination known as the “Holy Trinity,” comprised of opioids (usually oxycodone), benzodiazepines (usually alprazolam) and muscle relaxers (usually carisoprodol).
Delagente failed to monitor patients for addiction and ignored drug screening tests to determine whether certain patients were taking illicit drugs. In fact, Delagente prescribed controlled substances to patients he knew were addicted to opioids or other controlled substances. In one instance, an NJFM employee texted Delagente that a patient had gotten a babysitter and driven a long distance to get to the practice, but had been unable to see a doctor. Delagente responded: “Oh well … C’est la vie! Lol … He can wait for his oral heroin another day. Lol.”
One patient texted Delagente that the patient “probably can’t stop the pk’s,” referring to painkillers. The patient told Delagente that the patient “would need a plan to stop…not cold turkey.” A few days later, when the patient was having trouble obtaining pain medication, the patient wrote to Delagente that “If I go 4 days without [painkillers] I am in huge trouble.” In response, Delagente wrote “I will leave you a short supply RX [prescription] at the front to pick up.” Delagente then wrote the patient a prescription for 120 tablets of 30-milligram oxycodone for 30 days. Delagente at one point told this patient: “I’m literally sticking my neck out and can lose my medical license or [be] arrested for what I just did.”
Delagente also was charged with altering medical records of patients who received controlled substance prescriptions from him after law enforcement officials had subpoenaed the records in late April 2019.
Delagente faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each of the distribution of controlled dangerous substances charges. Delagente faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the charge of falsifying medical records. Sentencing for Delagente is scheduled for June 10, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason S. Gould of the Health Care Fraud Unit and Sean M. Sherman of the Opioids Unit in Newark.

South Philadelphia Drug Delivery Service Operators, Known As The “Friends,” Convicted At Trial On All Counts

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Antoine Clark, 30, Gerald Spruell, 32, and Daniel Robinson, 36, all of Philadelphia, PA, were convicted after more than two weeks at trial of charges including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and distribution or possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin arising from their operation of an almost around-the-clock drug delivery service for several years in South Philadelphia.
Between 2013 and 2016, the defendants and their co-conspirators, known as the “Friends” and “7th Street” drug trafficking group, delivered crack cocaine and heroin to customers along the 7th Street corridor in South Philadelphia using a shared drug phone. The defendants used the phone to take orders and communicate with customers; they would pass the phone off in shifts to keep their operation going almost 24 hours per day. FBI agents conducted surveillance and controlled purchases of narcotics from the defendants using audio and video recording devices. Agents recovered narcotics sold by the defendants after stopping their drug customers. During the course of the investigation, agents also intercepted phone calls and text messages from the shared drug phone, which documented the defendants’ illicit activities. Upon defendant Spruell’s arrest in June 2016, Philadelphia Police officers recovered a number of items related to drug trafficking, including two firearms and live rounds of ammunition.
“The defendants in this case ran a drug delivery operation akin to a ‘GrubHub’ or ‘UberEats’ for narcotics,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “But despite their ‘friendly’ moniker, they were no friends to this community.  To the contrary, they jeopardized the safety of an entire neighborhood in South Philadelphia.  This conviction marks the definitive end to their enterprise, and a new beginning for the 7th Street corridor.”
Each defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment, and a maximum of lifetime imprisonment.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Newcomer and Jason Grenell.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My Washington Times Review Of Bernard Cornwell's 'Sword Of Kings'

The Washington Times published my review of Bernard Cornwell’s Sword of Kings.

I first became acquainted with Bernard Cornwell by watching the “Sharpe” TV series, which was based on his historical novels that featured Richard Sharpe, portrayed by actor Sean Bean, a Napoleonic-era British soldier up from the ranks. Bernard Cornwell described Richard Sharpe as a rogue, but a rogue on our side.

I read the entire Sharpe series and I went on to read his other historical fiction, including his Saxon stories. The Saxon stories cover the bloody path that led to the creation of England in the 9th and 10th centuries.

The hero of the Saxon stories is Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Saxon lord from Northumbria who was captured by the Danes as a young man and adopted into their tribe. He later fights for Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex.

Alfred the Great’s dream was to unite the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into one kingdom called England. Mr. Cornwell’s Saxon stories were adapted for television and called “The Last Kingdom,” with actor Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred. The series appears on Netflix.

In Mr. Cornwell’s “King of Swords,” the 12th installment in the Saxon stories, Uhtred, who narrates the stories, becomes involved in the succession of Alfred the Great’s son, King Edward. Edward rules over Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia, and as he lay dying, Uhtred swears an oath to Edward’s likely successor, Aethelstan, to kill his rivals to the throne, Aethelhelm and his evil and rotten nephew, Aelfweard.

Uthred, a pagan and a feared warrior, would like to sit out the medieval game of thrones, but the oath is important to him, although he calls it a “fool’s errand.” With a small army he boards “Spearharfoc,” a warship equipped with sail and 40 rowers, and sails into the fray.

Uthred is soon engaged in numerous sea and land battles, which Mr. Cornwell describes in vivid and accurate historical detail. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:  

Sonny' Franzese, Legendary New York Mobster, Dead at 103

Robert Gearty at reports that Sonny Franzese, the former Cosa Nostra Colombo organized crime family underboss, has died.

Legendary New York mobster John “Sonny” Franzese, the former underboss of the Colombo Crime Family, has died at 103, TMZ reported.

As a younger man, according to Mafia lore, Franzese was a big spender and a regular at New York's Copacabana nightclub, where he hobnobbed with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.

He also provided financing for the classic 1972 porn film "Deep Throat.”

Franzese died of natural causes at a nursing home in New York, Fox News confirmed. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Monday, February 24, 2020

Narcotics Trafficker Who Distributed Heroin Mixed With Fentanyl Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison For Multiple Gun And Drug Offenses

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information:
PHILADELPHIA – Deputy United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen announced that Matt “Mack” Jones, 37, of Bensalem, PA, was sentenced to 240 months’ imprisonment and eight years’ supervised release by Senior United States District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick. Jones was convicted at trial in October 2019 on charges of distribution of heroin and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.
In January 2018, the Philadelphia Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey State Police, and the Philadelphia Police Department began a joint investigation of the defendant and other co-conspirators. Officers learned that the defendant was a heroin supplier, and that he supplied two female associates with bags of heroin and directed them to deliver the bags to customers in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area.
Investigators conducted several controlled buys of heroin from the defendant and his co-conspirators with the assistance of a cooperating witness at the Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and the Philadelphia Mills Mall (formerly Franklin Mills Mall) in Philadelphia. Laboratory analysis of the seized material confirmed the presence of heroin mixed with fentanyl. In July 2018, officers searched the defendant’s home and found firearms, including a Colt .38 handgun and a 12 gauge shotgun, ammunition, half a kilogram of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, drug packaging paraphernalia and more than $100,000 cash.
“Jones and other members of this drug organization pumped huge quantities of deadly drugs into our community for years,” said Deputy U.S. Attorney Lappen.  “Drug trafficking is a serious federal offense which will earn those convicted of it serious time behind bars, as this sentence demonstrates.  Our Office is determined to investigate and convict these criminals to keep the streets of our communities safer.”
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Philadelphia Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the Bensalem Township Police, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher E. Parisi.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Little Humor: Applying For A Government Job

A veteran visited a Defense Department depot in Philadelphia to apply for a job, as he heard that they were hiring vets.

The interviewer asked him, “Are you allergic to anything?” 

The man replied, “Yes, caffeine. I can’t drink coffee.”

“OK, have you ever been in the military?”

“Yes,” the man said. “I was in Afghanistan for one tour.”

The interviewer said, “That will give you five extra points toward employment.”

Then he asked, “Are you disabled in any way?”

The man replied, “Yes. An IED exploded near me and I lost both my testicles.”

The interviewer grimaced and said, “Disabled in your country’s service! Well, that qualifies for extra bonus points. 

“Okay. Looking at the regulations you have got enough points for me to hire you right now. Our normal hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., so you can start tomorrow at 10:00 am, and plan on starting at 10:00 am every day.”

The man was puzzled, and he asked, “If the work hours are from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, why don’t you want me here until 10:00 am?”

“This is a government job,” the interviewer said. “For the first two hours, we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our balls.

"No point in you coming in for that.”

Note: The above photo is of Moe, Larry and Curly, the Three Stooges.