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Prescription Drugs

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Smithtown Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Bradshaw. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Smithtown Central School District, in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department, its PTAs and Project Presence, will host an important community forum, “The Ugly Truth: Heroin and Prescription Drug Education and Awareness.”

The forum, which is open to all Smithtown community residents, begins at 7 p.m. at Smithtown High School West, 100 Central Road, Smithtown. Content to be discussed is most appropriate for children aged 15 years and older.

During the event, attendees will be provided with information on the dangers of prescription medication and heroin abuse, how to recognize the signs of drug abuse among teenagers and tools and actions parents can take to help their child.

The program will also feature a question and answer period and training on Narcan, a prescription medication that can reverse an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids. Additionally, SCPD’s Operation Medicine Cabinet will be on hand to safely discard expired or unwanted prescription medication.

“Our goal is to increase education and awareness and build protective factors and preventative skills for families with a series of follow-up workshops,” said Jennifer Bradshaw, Smithtown Central School District assistant superintendent for instruction.

File photo

The issue of drug abuse will be brought to the forefront in a few weeks, as the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees dedicates its next meeting to a community discussion on the topic.

That meeting on Dec. 7 is being moved to Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, where school, village and police officials will meet for a forum called The Ugly Truth.

“Although we have all read and heard the headlines about heroin in our neighborhoods and the dangers of easy access to powerful prescription medication, we rarely hear The Ugly Truth behind these headlines,” according to a flyer advertising the joint event.

Suffolk County Police Department officials, including the chief medical examiner and a school resource officer, will tell parents the signs of heroin and prescription drug abuse among teenagers and what can be done about it.

The village trustees will hold their work session meeting at 6 p.m. that day at the high school on Old Post Road, then attend the forum at 7 p.m. in lieu of holding a public comment period at Village Hall as usual. The public comment period will instead be held at the board’s following meeting, on Dec. 21.

Drug addiction and abuse is a topic that hits home in all Long Island communities, but it has been a particular point of friction in Port Jefferson and Port Jefferson Station because of a visible homeless population and the presence of various community services catering to that group, such as a soup kitchen network and a homeless shelter.

Flying high on the Smithtown Bypass
A 38-year-old man from Amityville was arrested on Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. after police said he had heroin in his possession, pushed a police officer to the ground and then forcefully pulled away while trying to resist arrest on the Smithtown Bypass in Smithtown. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree physical contact and resisting arrest.

Garage door damage
An unknown person damaged a garage door of a residence on Oak Avenue in Smithtown at 4 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Goodbye
A 51-year-old man from Holbrook was arrested on Nov. 6 at 11:15 p.m. after police said he drove into a 2007 Ford van that was parked on Johnson Avenue in Ronkonkoma and fled. He was charged with leaving the scene with property damage.

No more rims
Four tires and rims were stolen from a Cadillac at King O’Rourke Cadillac Buick GMC in Smithtown at 10 p.m. on Nov. 4.

Shed crime
A 19-year-old woman and a 20-year-old woman from Commack were arrested after police said they entered a shed on Lillian Road in Nesconset on Nov. 4 without permission at 7:30 a.m. They were both charged with third-degree criminal trespassing of an enclosed property.

Fake
A 45-year-old man from Commack was arrested on Nov. 7 after police said he pretended to be a police officer by showing a fake badge and saying he was a police officer at 1:30 p.m. on Route 25A in Commack. He was charged with second-degree criminal impersonation of a public servant.

Pot stop
Police said a 18-year-old man from Commack had marijuana in his possession at the corner of Route 25A and Commack Road in Commack at 10:50 p.m. on Nov. 4. He was arrested and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Flee fail
On Nov. 4 a 63-year-old woman from Commack was arrested after police said she hit a parked 2006 Ford pickup truck on Commack Road at 5:20 p.m. while driving a 2004 Cadillac and attempted to flee the scene. She was arrested and charged with leaving the scene with property damage.

Repair needed
On Nov. 6 around 1:40 p.m. an unknown person damaged the Dano’s Auto Clinic sign on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station.

Cool crime
Between Nov. 3 and 4 an unidentified person stole an air-conditioning unit from Rheumatology Associates of Long Island in Port Jefferson Station.

Inhospitable hit
Suffolk County police said an unknown person broke the front window of the Pax Christi Hospitality Center in Port Jefferson on Nov. 6. The individual used a rock to damage the window.

Starting a garage band
On Nov. 5 an unidentified person stole an iMac computer and a guitar from a building on Riverhead Road in Sound Beach.

Just beachy
At Scott’s Beach Club in Sound Beach on Nov. 5, someone damaged a security camera and the arm of the security gate.

Mad hatter
On Nov. 7 someone left the Kohl’s in Rocky Point with a black hat without paying.

Can’t get no re-leaf
Between Nov. 4 and 5, an unknown person stole a leaf blower from a residence on Oxhead Road in Centereach. Police said the leaf blower was inside the home but didn’t specify how the person entered the home.

ShopWrong
An unknown person entered the ShopRite in Selden and stole assorted merchandise on Nov. 7.
A female stole assorted items from the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in East Setauket on Nov. 5.

Stony broke
On Nov. 6, an unknown person used another person’s identification without permission. According to police, the victim, who lives in Stony Brook, saw several charges to their bank card.

Drugged up and dreamin’
Police arrested a 28-year-old man from Medford for driving while ability impaired by drugs on Nov. 5, around 4:34 p.m., after he allegedly fell asleep while driving a 2008 Honda Civic west on Canal Road in Mount Sinai. Police arrested the man at the scene.

Wrong way
Police charged a 23-year-old woman on Nov. 5 for driving while ability impaired after she drove a black 2015 Hyundai Elantra the wrong way on a ramp connecting Route 97 and Route 25 in Centereach. According to police, the woman crashed into a tan 2003 Mercedes Benz. Police arrested the woman at the scene.          

License to spray paint
Police arrested a 69-year-old man from Selden on Nov. 6 for six counts of criminal tampering. The man allegedly spray-painted the front and rear license plates of a 2001 Toyota Camry, a 2004 Ford Taurus and four other unidentified cars on Oct. 17 and 27. The incidents took place at St. Joseph’s Village For Senior Citizens in Selden.

Low on luck
An 18-year-old man from East Setauket was arrested for petit larceny on Nov. 5, a few days after he took items from a Lowe’s home improvement store in Medford and attempted to return them for store credit.

Caught after the act
A 50-year-old woman from Rocky Point was arrested for grand larceny on Nov. 5, almost a month after she took a wallet from another woman’s purse on West Broadway in Port Jefferson. Police arrested the woman at the 6th Precinct.

In a Garden State of mind
Police arrested a 17-year-old teen from Brentwood on Nov. 6 for operating a car without a license. According to police, the teen was with another individual when he was driving the 2012 Toyota east on Route 25A in Miller Place, and he was in possession of forged New Jersey license plates.

Crash landing
A 23-year-old woman from Sound Beach was arrested on Nov. 7 for driving while ability impaired, after she crashed her 1996 Volkswagen on Rocky Point Landing Road in Rocky Point. Police arrested the woman on Tall Tree Lane.

The Heartbreaker
Coins and cash were stolen from a 2004 Chevrolet, a 2014 GMC and a 2005 Subaru, all parked in driveways on Valentine Lane in Huntington on Nov. 6.

Windshield woes
On Nov. 5 at 10 p.m. a 21-year-old man from Greenlawn was arrested after police said he jumped on a car on the corner of Greenlawn Road and Tilden Lane, and damaged the windshield. He caused injury to a police officer while resisting arrest, and was charged with second-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury to an officer, resisting arrest and intent to damage property.

Electronic troubles
An unknown person entered a gray 1999 Jeep Cherokee on Nassau Road in Huntington and stole a cell phone and an iPod at 1 a.m. on Nov. 7.

Not quite on Target
On Nov. 5, a 21-year-old woman from Huntington was arrested after police said she stole assorted clothing from the Target on East Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station at 10:40 p.m. She was charged with petit larceny.

Dodgin’ the law
An unknown person entered a 2011 Dodge in a driveway on Vestry Court in Huntington and stole assorted items, including a pocket knife and a flashlight on Nov. 6.

Fake it till you make it
Police said a 19-year-old man from Roosevelt used fake checks at Community Market on Depot Road in Huntington Station on Nov. 4 at 12:30 p.m. He was charged with second-degree possession of a forged instrument.

Making a legacy in his Legacy
A 53-year-old man from Freeport was arrested at 10:15 a.m. on Nov. 6 after police said he intentionally hit a police vehicle with his 2015 Subaru Legacy on Rofay Drive in East Northport and then resisted arrest. According to police, he also had heroin in his possession. He was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, third degree criminal mischief for property damage and fourth degree criminal possession of narcotic drugs.

Tears at Sears
Police said a 35-year-old from Huntington Station stole clothing from Sears on Route 25A in East Northport on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. He was charged with petit larceny.

High on North Hill
A 30-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested after police said he was in possession of marijuana on the corner of North Hill Drive and Pulaski Road in East Northport on Nov. 5 at around 10 p.m.

No room for that at the inn
On Nov. 7, a 34-year-old man from Hicksville was arrested after police said he was in possession of cocaine in a parking lot of Rodeway Inn on West Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station. He was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Full speed ahead on Railroad Street
A 35-year-old man from Syosset was arrested on Nov. 5 after police said he was in possession of cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills without a prescription and then resisted arrest at 10:15 p.m. on the corner of Railroad Street and West Pulaski Road in Huntington Station. He was charged with two accounts of seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Kara Hahn’s prescription medicine take-back proposal aims to enhance Long Island’s drinking water quality

A two-tiered piece of legislation on the county level is looking to tackle some of Long Island’s most pressing issues, from the medicine counter to the waterways, all in one fell swoop.

A proposal to establish a drug stewardship program throughout the county could potentially build upon existing drug take-back programs, playing off recent legislation enacted in Alameda County, California, and ultimately keep drugs out of our drinking water, lawmakers said. Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) introduced the piece of legislation earlier this summer with hopes of providing residents with more convenient ways to get rid of their unused medicine before the county’s next general meeting in October.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn is pushing a bill to make it easier to get rid of leftover medicine. File photo
Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn is pushing a bill to make it easier to get rid of leftover medicine. File photo

“This is a duel benefit,” Hahn said. “I’ve wanted to find a way to get pharmacies to be required to take back prescription drugs, and this doesn’t quite require that, but it could be an end result.”

The local law proposal argued that while pharmaceuticals are essential to the treatment of illnesses and long-term conditions, residents at large still do not dispose of them properly, running the risk of certain drugs ending up in public drinking water supplies and causing harm to the environment. And with Suffolk County sitting on top of a sole source aquifer, which provides residents with necessary drinking water, Hahn argued that protecting the aquifer was critical to the health and safety of Long Island as a whole.

“The idea is to begin a discussion on this. Federal regulations have changed to allow pharmacies to take back certain drugs, but the state level has been dragging their feet on the local regulations in order to make this possible here,” Hahn said. “They can’t drag their feet any longer. All kinds of medicines are being found in our water when our health inspectors do their sampling. We have to find a way on both these fronts to control what is happening.”

The legislator said she was playing off the recently passed law in California, which also established a drug product stewardship policy requiring manufacturers to design and fund collection programs for medications. Similar programs have also sprouted up in Canada, France, Spain and Portugal.

A spokesman for Hahn said the bill would essentially establish a manufacturer-administered pharmaceutical take-back program that would provide residents with convenient ways to safely and environmentally responsibly dispose of expired and unneeded medications.

“This program, if adopted, will primarily impact and improve water quality rather than deal with drug abuse,” Seth Squicciarino, the spokesman, said. “However, it is reasonable to assume that if there are less unused, unneeded and forgotten prescription drugs in medicine cabinets, it could reduce drug experimentation especially among first time users.”

Currently, residents’ only course of action when looking to properly dispose of unused medicine is to bring their prescriptions to the 4th Precinct or 6th Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department, which then dumps the drugs into an incinerator — which Hahn described as the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of drugs right now.

Lee Zeldin, center, announces his support of two House bills to help addicts and prevent others from using drugs. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Rep. Lee Zeldin took to Kings Park on Sunday to join the fight against drug abuse, an issue that is plaguing communities on Long Island and across the nation.

Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced his backing of two bills in Congress — the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, H.R. 953, and the Stop Overdose Stat Act, H.R. 2850 — which seek to help those struggling with drug abuse and prevent future abuse. Zeldin is co-sponsoring both bills.

“It’s clear we must come together as a community and a nation to combat this growing issue,” Zeldin said.

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the percentage of state high school students who reported use of heroin more than doubled between 2005 and 2011, from 1.8 percent to 4 percent.

“We can’t treat them and street them, which is what is currently happening in our emergency rooms,” said Linda Ventura, treasurer of Families in Support of Treatment, known as F.I.S.T., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and educating families which are struggling with a loved one’s addiction. “There should be no more shame with someone struggling with this disease, no, stigma — that has to go.”

Ventura, who is also involved with the Suffolk County Prevention Resource Center, is more than just a member of activist groups. She lost her son, Thomas, in March 2012 to drugs.

Bill 953 would help people grappling with drug abuse obtain the services needed to put them on the road to recovery. It would provide up to $80 million in the form of grant funding to help treat and prevent addiction through community-based education and prevention programs, and treatment and recovery programs.

The grants would further help expand prescription drug monitoring programs and provide police forces and emergency medical responders with higher supplies of Narcan, a prescription drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

The legislation has 20 co-sponsors — both Democrats and Republicans — and was introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

“It’s a good bill on its merits alone, and it doesn’t matter what names or letters are attached to it,” Zeldin said.

Bill 2850 would provide an additional $25 million over a five-year period for Narcan production and distribution and provide more medical professionals and families with the lifesaving drug.

The act, introduced by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), would also establish a preventative research task force that would look into ways to prevent future overdose deaths, while taking a preventative approach against drug abuse.

Zeldin was joined by members of the community including Suffolk County Legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) and Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset); Kim Revere, president of Kings Park in the kNOw, a task force promoting a drug-free community; and Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer of Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. The congressman wanted to show the only way to win the battle was to remain united.

Like Ventura, the fight was personal for some of those in attendance at Sunday’s press conference.

“I lost my son, Timothy, in August of 2009 after a 14-month struggle with prescription drugs, which eventually led to heroin,” said Teri Kroll, secretary for F.I.S.T.’s board of directors and a member of the resource center. “He passed away after eight and a half months of sobriety.”

Saji Francis, the doctor who prescribed Timothy the drug he eventually became addicted to, was arrested shortly after Timothy passed away. In 2010, Francis was convicted of illegally selling prescription pills and sentenced to six months in jail.

Kolodny, who also serves as the director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, explained how many people start abusing drugs after taking prescription medications.

“To control this epidemic we need to prevent new people from getting this disease, and treat those who are suffering,” he said. “We also need to get doctors and dentists to prescribe more cautiously. If not, these overdose levels with continue to rise.”

Dr. Mitchel Fagin faces federal indictment, charges saying he distributed oxycodone, meth and more

Stock photo

A doctor from Smithtown faces federal charges accusing him of doling out drugs illegally, the U.S. Department of Justice said this week.

Dr. Mitchel Fagin was indicted Friday morning on charges that he illegally distributed oxycodone, methodone and alprazolam, highly addictive prescription pain medications, said Kelly T. Currie, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Currie and Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt of the Drug Enforcement Administration announced the charges on Friday.

“At the trial the government anticipates calling as witnesses several women who confirmed that Fagin accepted sexual favors in exchange for controlled substance prescriptions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Gatz stated in court records.

Fagin, 63, was arraigned over the weekend before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert at the United States Courthouse located in Central Islip, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges. He surrendered Friday to the Long Island District Office Tactical Diversion Squad, which is comprised of federal agents and officers of the Nassau County, Rockville Centre, and Port Washington police departments.

His attorney could not be reached for comment.

The 12-count indictment and public filings alleged that between May 2010 and September 2014, Fagin, a pain management doctor, issued multiple controlled substance prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose to individuals he knew were addicts. Fagin is also alleged to have issued controlled substance prescriptions in exchange for sexual favors from female patients.

“Dr. Fagin allegedly used his prescription-writing privileges not to heal, as was his duty, but to victimize vulnerable patients,” Currie said. “Doctors who issue prescriptions without a legitimate medical need are violating the law and will be held accountable.”

The doctor was previously investigated by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct resulting in at least one suspension of his medical license.

If convicted of the current charges, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $1 million fine.

“As detailed in the indictment, Dr. Fagin’s house was a medicine chest for opioid addicts to fuel their addiction. Dr. Fagin allegedly abused his position as a medical practitioner and prescribed medications for non-medical needs,” Hunt said in a statement over the weekend. “I commend the Long Island District Office Tactical Diversion Squad and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, for their diligent work throughout this investigation.”

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