$1 BUYS a $17.5 MILLION PROPERTY: ONLY IN PITTSFIELD, plus, MORE ON STEROIDsGATE: ARTICLE REVEALS SHOCKING TRUTH OF STEROIDS USE BY COPS; THERE’s GOLD IN THEN THAR SQUAD CARS, PLUS, WE THE PEOPLE DEMAND: RANDOM DRUG TESTING NOW!
BY DAN VALENTI
FIRST ADD, 4/9/11, 3:44 p.m. (Ted Williams’ lifetime batting average)
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, APRIL 9) — Do you remember Patrick Sheehan, the mysterious owner of the building on outer East Street that the city wanted to purchase for a DPW garage? He of the seemingly countless LLCs and corporations?
Uncovered by sleuths at The Planet is a DEED listed on the website of masslandrecords.com. Here’s the deed:
Not being a lawyer, for which we thank great God in His heaven, we can only point our a few puzzling and tantalizing aspects of this document. Remember, this is the nursing home mogul who almost sold what might prove to be PCB-laden property to the city for an exorbitant price with unanswered quetions on liability and remediation. Uncle Gerry Lee’s rubber stamp almost came out on this, before coverage prompted more scrutiny.
Notice about the deed:
*Quaside, the Massachusetts non-profit, has an Atlanta, Ga., address.
* Sheehan paid one dollar, a buck, for the Lebanon Avenue property with a mortgage of $17.5 million.
* It notes that Quaside “has voluntarily entered into this transaction.” That’s an extremely odd codicile to add. As Raymond Mason, the Planet’s in-house lawyer explains, all contracts contracts properly drawn, signed, and recorded — ALL — are assumed to be voluntary and not signed under duress. Signing under duress, of course, would invalidate any signature.
* Why would Quaside have to admit, in black and white, it “voluntarily entered into this crazy deal of offering one dollar for a $17.5 million asset. Makes one wonder when Quaside signed on the dotten line, where was the position of its other hand and arm, and are they now in a cast?
* The deed also explains why there are “no deed stamps … affixed hereto,” another peculiar aspect.
* Do you think the city of Pittsfield will be buying a DPW garage at 255 Lebanon Avenue for the remainder of a $17.5 million debt?
* Naw, it couldn’t be. Shows you how sharp The Planet is. With our dollar, we bought a coffee at the Intermodal Transportation Center snack bar and got seven cents back as change. If we were as smart as Sheehan Purchase LLC, we could have bought a palace. Next thing you know, Mayor Ruberto and Uncle Gerry will be issuing a press release that tells us that Sheehan “is a nice guy.” Of that, The Planet has no doubt. We are all “nice guys,” in our own way.
Illegal Use of Steroids by Cops: “Police Chief” Does what Pittsfield will NOT do: It takes on the issue directly
The Planet presents a reading assignment we highly recommend to every member of the Pittsfield police department, employees of the county house of correction, the county drug task force, District Attorney David Capeless and staff, citizens, and anyone else who wants to learn more about the prevalent use of steroids by cops.
The article will be presented in three parts. “Police Chief” magazine addresses pressing concerns to the command staff at the nation’s police departments. We assume Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn subscribes. If not, The Planet recommends doing so. The following article, written by Commander Kim Humphrey, was published in the March 2011 issue and represents current views. Here is Part 1:
Anabolic Steroid Use and Abuse by Police Officers: Policy & Prevention
By Commander Kim R. Humphrey, Professional Standards Bureau, Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department; Kathleen P. Decker, M.D., U.S. Air Force; Linn Goldberg, M.D., Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon; Harrison G. Pope Jr., M.D., Harvard Medical School; Joseph Gutman, M.D., Practicing Endocrinologist, Tempe, Arizona; and Gary Green, M.D., University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
Although physical fitness is an essential part of policing, as described in the previous article, some officers go too far to ensure their strength—endangering not only themselves but also the public they are sworn to defend.
n officer crashes a police car and seriously injures an innocent bystander. The investigation reveals that the officer was acting erratically, had bloodshot eyes, and slurred his speech. The officer’s supervisor is called, and the decision is made to test for alcohol consumption. The test results determine that the officer was in fact intoxicated. Disciplinary action is taken, resulting in the officer’s termination for drinking alcohol while driving on duty. Though exposed to liability, the department recognizes the dangers of alcohol abuse and appropriately responds when a dangerous situation presents itself.
Another officer, involved in several shootings and use-of-force incidents, garners significant attention within his agency and the media. Investigations reveal that the unrelated incidents were questionable but lawful and, according to the officer, justified based on perceived threats. The agency’s use-of-force review reluctantly finds the officer within policy but awaits the next incident. How many police leaders would recognize that this officer could have a problem similar to the one in the first example? If the officer’s appearance indicated he was exceptionally muscular, would they consider the possible abuse of anabolic steroids? What would prompt them to believe that excessive use of force could be associated with “’roid rage,” a hyperaggressive, violent state of mind supposedly brought on by steroid use? When and how would they confirm that their suspicions are true? What if a defense or civil attorney proposed that an officer was a steroid abuser based on the officer’s appearance and witnessed behaviors? Compared with alcohol and other illicit drugs, anabolic steroids (also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids, or AASs) are not easily detected. Supervisors typically are trained to look for inappropriate behaviors that might justify a “just cause” drug screen; however, with AASs the behaviors and other indicators might not be as easily recognized.
Recently, accounts of major league baseball’s steroid era have come to light, Olympic athletes have admitted use, and many other major sporting icons have been stripped of their titles after being caught using performance-enhancing drugs such as AASs and human growth hormone (HGH). Unfortunately, growing evidence suggests a similar abuse of AASs and other performance-enhancing drugs by law enforcement professionals. Across the United States, several investigations associated with Internet pharmacies and “antiaging” clinics in association with unscrupulous physicians have revealed officers caught up in this web of illicit drug use.
Although the traditional reason for the use of AASs is to improve athletic performance, AASs also appeal to officers wanting a tactical edge or an intimidating appearance. Unlike with other forms of drug abuse, steroid users do not take their drug recreationally; on the contrary, some state they need these drugs in order to do their job effectively or improve their “job performance.” From street officers who consider themselves vulnerable to bigger, more aggressive criminals to special-assignment officers who are regularly tested for their physical abilities, officers are turning to performance-enhancing drugs such as AASs and HGH as a shortcut to improved performance. This article will not delve into the abuse of HGH, which is not a controlled substance but is obtained by prescription only and has very limited use—none for normal adults.
In addition to the normal health concerns, there is one further issue when discussing abuse of steroids by those in the law enforcement profession. Officers carry weapons, are authorized to use lethal force, and are often involved in physically controlling or restraining people. If the stories of ’roid rage are true, how often are the officers who use anabolic steroids involved in unnecessary use-offorce incidents that could become a major liability for their agencies? Considering the legal issues, health effects, and commensurate costs associated with inappropriate use, agencies should proactively address this issue. Rather than look back on what could be an embarrassing “steroid era” of law enforcement—one in which the profession might be riddled with lawsuits, corruption, and claims of heavy-handedness—it is critical to address the current and future impact of this issue head-on.
Over the past few decades, several stories have surfaced regarding law enforcement personnel involved with anabolic steroids. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently led Operation Raw Deal, considered the largest international steroid investigation to date. The operation discovered several links to current or former law enforcement officers. This was predicted almost 20 years ago by an article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin that stated, “Anabolic steroid abuse by police officers is a serious problem that merits greater awareness by departments across the country.”1 In addition, a story on the television program 60 Minutes in 1989 titled “Beefing up the Force” featured three police officers who admitted steroid use and claimed that their resulting aggression got them in serious trouble.
In the past year, a book titled Falling Off the Thin Blue Line was written and published by former Texas police officer David Johnson, who describes his addiction to steroids and speaks about the prevalence of steroid abuse in the law enforcement community.2 Recently, investigations into illegal steroid purchases revealed the names of several officers on pharmacy distribution lists, garnering national media attention. Unfortunately, agencies looking for methods to confront steroid abuse find few examples of effective policies and practices. This article summarizes the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department’s experience in this area over the past several years and suggests policy and testing considerations for anabolic steroids in the law enforcement community.
Problems with Testing
In 2005, the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) investigated several incidents either directly or indirectly involving officers accused of abusing anabolic steroids. As a result, the city formed a committee to determine policy changes and address the issue with public safety agencies (that is, police and fire departments) as well as all other city employees. Due to the demands of the law enforcement profession and the legal precedent supporting random drug testing, policies are naturally more stringent for police than for other city departments. The police department, with support from its labor organization, added anabolic steroids to the random testing process for all officers and the preemployment screen. Research is clear that significant health risks result from nontherapeutic uses of anabolic steroids. 3 For this reason, the PPD’s focus on prevention revolved around a prevention video with questions and answers from a local endocrinologist who specializes in steroid abuse treatment.
Regarding testing, the task seemed simple enough: contact a local laboratory and test officers for performance-enhancing substances. However, implementation proved less than simple. First, adding AASs to the PPD’s random test tripled its drug testing costs. Additionally, local laboratories were able to provide only an initial urine screen that tested for a handful of the growing number of AASs. Furthermore, compounding the difficulty of the task, testing for anabolic steroids goes beyond looking for the specific synthetic AAS; it also needs to detect compounds naturally created by the human body, such as testosterone. This entails an analysis of an individual’s ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone (abbreviated T/E); when this value is found to be out of normal range, it may indicate the use of illegal substances. Additionally, as noted previously, HGH does not fall under the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, and currently there is no reliable test to detect it in the human body.
Testing for performance-enhancing substances presents a myriad of challenges:
How can an agency test for “all” illegal AASs, and what does it do if a T/E ratio is not normal?
How can an agency prove that someone is illegally or inappropriately using anabolic steroids?
What if an officer who tests positive provides a prescription, and the prescribing physician indicates that the officer has a condition that necessitates the use of these drugs? Additionally, what constitutes abuse of prescribed drugs?
Do ’roid rage and other psychiatric disturbances claimed to result from steroid abuse actually exist, and do they present a liability to an abuser’s organization?
Jumping into a testing policy before answering these questions will lead agencies to the realization that testing for these substances is not as straightforward as, say, discovering heroin in a drug screen. Officers might present a prescription or might have ordered something over the Internet in what they believe is a legal transaction. The DEA works regularly to shut down numerous unscrupulous doctors who seek to make money by connecting with pharmacies and engaging in illegal distribution, using the few very specific legitimate uses for AASs as cover for their operation. In these cases, ignorance is a common excuse from officers, who typically state that a doctor prescribed the drug, so it must be “okay.”
The PPD sought out answers to these and other questions. Below is a description of the issue and some policy considerations.
What Are Steroids?
Steroids are a group of chemical substances that have certain structural similarities. AASs constitute a subgroup of this category that includes the physiological (normal) human male hormone testosterone as well as related compounds with similar functions. These compounds have legitimate medical uses but are frequently abused for illegitimate, recreational uses (bodybuilding, weightlifting, or “bulking up,” as well as athletic performance enhancement). AASs should not be confused with other types of “steroids,” such as corticosteroids. This latter group of drugs, including hydrocortisone and prednisone, is prescribed widely for legitimate medical purposes (for example, skin creams to treat rashes, in asthma inhalers, and so on). Corticosteroids do not cause increases in muscle mass, have almost no abuse potential, and are almost never sold on the illicit market. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, references to steroids mean specifically AASs, which are the type of steroids that are used illicitly.
AASs are controlled substances. They are prescribed by physicians for certain specific, legitimate medical reasons, such as treatment of a condition known as hypogonadism (abnormally low testosterone production in men), cancer (to suppress certain kinds of tumors), a rare genetic condition called angioneurotic edema, AIDS wasting syndrome, and some forms of anemia (low red blood cell counts). The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) lists specific allowable “indications,” or uses, for all regulated drugs. The legitimate uses of AASs are minimal as noted; for example, an officer who states that a physician provided them for “elbow pain” would be using them inappropriately.
Medical investigators also perform research studies on human volunteers to better understand the benefits and risks of AASs. To be considered legitimate, such a study must be approved by an institutional review board operated according to the standards of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office for Human Research Protections, and registered with the FDA and/or the NIH Clinical Trials Registry (clinicaltrials.gov).
Illicit “Benefits” of AASs
AASs can be taken orally, by injection, as a skin patch or cream, or sometimes by placing them between the cheek and gum. When combined with a high-protein diet and vigorous weightlifting, AASs “work.” That means that they stimulate the formation of muscle tissue and are known to cause enlargement of muscle fibers. It is widely understood that testosterone (the major natural male AAS hormone in normal, healthy men) stimulates an increase in fat-free muscle mass while at the same time decreasing fat. Doses of AASs that exceed the normal production rate of testosterone can amplify this effect, resulting in supernormal gains in lean muscle mass and strength.
Patterns of Illegitimate Use
Abusers of AASs often follow a particular pattern of use, as discovered in one study of AAS users:4
Many users reported taking a weekly dose in excess of (the equivalent of) 1,000 mg of testosterone. For comparison, adult human testicles normally produce 5–10 mg of testosterone per day—generally less than 100 mg/week.
Most AAS users reported self-administering by injecting the drug directly into their muscles.
Some studies reveal that approximately 25 percent of those who inject AASs share needles or vials, increasing the risk of HIV infection, viral hepatitis, or other infections.
Over 95 percent of AAS users reported self-administering multiple substances, with 25 percent taking growth hormone and/or insulin in addition to AASs.
Users have been found to move on to illegal drugs other than athletic performance enhancers.
Nearly 100 percent of AAS users reported noticeable side effects—but most users claim that these effects are mild and do not deter them from continuing to use AASs.
Users often become fixated on their muscularity and are reluctant to stop using AASs for fear that they will get smaller again.
THE PLANET WILL PRESENT PART TWO OF THIS ARTICLE ON MONDAY. DON’T MISS IT!
Food for thought, but there’s gold in them thar squad cars.
Eight of the top nine city salaries for FY2010 are held by members of the Pittsfield Police Department. Here’s the Top Nine, as complied by the Pittsfield Gazette from the city’s payroll records (highlighted in bold):
* (1) GLEN DECKER, police sergeant, $143,106.47
* (2) MICHAEL ORTEGA, police safety officer, $142,315,21
* (3) PATRICK BARRY, police captain, $140,276.33
* (4) HOWARD EBERWEIN, school superintendent, $133,858.98
* (5) MARK LENIHAN, police sergeant, $133,812.53
* (6) MICHAEL WINSTON, police lieutenant, $131,074.31
* (7) JAMES MCINTYRE, police patrol officer, $129,738.35
* (8) MARC STROUT, police sergeant, $126,846.19
* (9) MICHAEL NYKORCHUCK, police patrol officer, $115,945.03.
Payroll records show that 17 other members of the PPD make in excess of $85,000 per year. REMEMBER THAT NONE OF THESE FIGURES INCLUDES THE CITY’S OVERLY GENEROUS BENEFITS PACKAGE, WHICH ADDS ROUGHLY 30 to 33% MORE TO THESE TOTALS. There are a slew of other PPD members who make above $75,000 here.
So yes, the public damn well better be allowed to expect a higher standard for moral and ethical behavior from the very people who are shown to protect citizens and uphold, not break, the law. Police officer David Kirchner, busted after an internal probe by police captain David Granger found him guilty of criminal conduct and conduct unbecoming an officer in connection with illegal steroids, made $98,429.
Now how are these possible, when, for example, Kirchner’s base pay in in the upper $40,000s? Massive amounts of overtime, including suggestions of overtime abuses.
Police Chief Michael Wynn, other members of the force, and the administration should not express wonder at the extent of the outrage SteroidsGate has stirred up in the community. This one his a nerve. It will take a long time before the department gains back the ground it has lost since March, for there are few people convinced that in the PPD, Kirchner is the LONE ROUGE OFFICER who has messed with the juice.
Granted, no evidence has yet emerged to suggest it’s more than Kirchner, but then again, there are two probes ongoing, one local by an unnamed law enforcement agency, and a joint federal probe by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Postal Service. We must also remember that, according to what Chief Wynn has said in press statements, including our exclusive interview with him yesterday, he had no idea, not a clue, that Kirchner was involved with steroids. Thus, how does he know or any member of the public know that AREN’T more PPD personnel juicing?
Immediate institution of random drug testing is the only answer. The police union head told The Planet his members supports that. The PPD command supports that. Mayor Ruberto supports that. The public unanimously supports that. So what’s the hold up.
Who will force this? Who will take a leadership position? Mayor Ruberto? Chief Wynn? DA David Capeless? Sheriff Tom Bowler? Memebers of the vaunted Berkshire County Drug Task Force? PPD union boss Marc Maddalena? How about all of them? The Planet will take one.
So who will it be, gents? Maybe that’s why it’s time for a woman police chief. Women aren’t into the musclehead juicing the way males are.
WE ASK, IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE’s DEMAND:
* MAYOR RUBERTO
* CHEIF WYNN
* UNION HEAD DAVE MADDALENA
to get together and get this done. That’s how you come in and turn around public perception quickly.
Be clear. WE THE PEOPLE demand this. They are not requesting this. As far as that goes, who of my Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council will take a leadership role and join in this demand? How about it, Uncle Gerry Lee? You were police chief in Pittsfield. How ’bout jonathan Lothrop. You are Mr. Law and Order, Mr. Leadership, Mr. I’m So Full of Myself That I Can’t See Straight? Redeem yourself. Opportunity knocks.
There, The Planet has given you the solution. Take note, the naysayers, who falsely claim that this website is about sensationalism and numbers, never offering positive suggestions. We do, with just about every issue we raise. We have just done so here.
MORE TO COME, INCLUDING THE LATEST ON A WHEELER DEALER (HE BUYS A PROPERTY THAT HAS “a certain mortgage … in the original principal about of $17,500,000” for the “full consideration of $1” — That’s right, one lousy buck. Find out where this Pittsfield property is, who is the money man (hint: He made headlines not too long ago when the city tried to buy a new DPW garage!), and what this might mean. Also, we share more on a devastating report in the March 2011 issue of “Police Chief” magazine on “Anabolic Steroid Use and Abuse by Police Officers.” This steroids is a harmless drug. Think again.
That’s it for now, folks. And so we say, OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLE! LOVE TO ALL.