What Happened In Sayreville?
By J. R. de Szigethy
It is an idyllic example of Suburban American life, a place that Norman Rockwell could have painted. A river runs through it. A place where, on Autumnal Friday nights, thousands of local residents congregate to cheer the young men of the High School’s long-successful football team. Rocker Jon bon Jovi is the token local celebrity in a community that is predominantly made up of white, middle-class, blue-collar families. Until recently, most Americans had probably never heard of Sayreville, New Jersey, which is located about 20 miles SouthWest of the Statue of Liberty. Today, almost overnight, Sayreville is to be found in newspapers around the world, regarding a scandal involving it’s football team. 7 teen-agers have been arrested, accused of a hazing ritual deemed Sexual Assault by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. What is alleged is the following; Freshmen recruits of the football team were accosted by Senior members in the team’s locker room in a bizarre initiation ceremony; the victims would be pushed to the floor, after which one of the attackers would ram his finger into the kid’s anal cavity; at that point that finger would be jammed into the victim’s mouth. Just days before the arrests, the School Superintendent, Dr. Richard Labbe, announced the cancellation of the remaining football season. His action was denounced by many, but Labbe clearly knew in making his decision what was likely to come; the arrests of members of the football team that would instantly change the narrative to this story. (1) Following this action was the Suspension of all the Coaches, pending an inquiry that could possibly result in Termination. (2)
Other disturbing scandals in the sports world in recent years provided a “perfect storm” to make this story of national and international interest. Among them was the horrific case at Penn State University, where, for many years, a football coach sexually assaulted young boys, some crimes being committed in the campus locker room, one instance of which was witnessed by a football coach and a maintenance worker, and yet several high-ranking officials of the University engaged in an alleged cover-up. (3) Most recently, the Commissioner of the National Football League has come under increasing criticism regarding the League’s action - or inaction - involving high-profile cases of assaults against women and children committed by NFL players.
Despite the attention given to what happened in Sayreville, there is another aspect to this case that has received much less attention; the arrest, during this time frame, of one of the team’s Coaches. On September 26, two weeks before the arrests of the 7 accused, a New Jersey Police Officer pulled over a pickup truck driving away from a hotel which had long been under surveillance for illegal activity. Another Officer was called to the scene,whose trained sniff dog quickly signaled that drugs were inside the vehicle. That Officer asked the driver to comply with what is called a “Consensual Search,” in which the law enforcement official, lacking a Court-ordered Search Warrant, convinces the suspect to agree to being Searched for illegal contraband. Often times, the suspect will agree to such a search, for two reasons; 1. their illegal contraband is well hidden, and; 2. to object to such a search sends a message to the law enforcement official that they may have something to hide. What was quickly discovered with the help of the dog was a substantial quantity of anabolic steroids, the scrouge of the sports industry. Thus, the Football Coach was arrested, released on his “Own Recognizance,” and promptly resigned from the staff of the Sayreville High School Football team. His Criminal Lawyer stated to the Media that the allegations against his client have nothing to do with the football team. (4) (5) That statement is unlikely to deter members of law enforcement nor members of the School Board as they seek answers as to the alleged criminal actions of members of the Football Team.
Among the issues to be investigated:
1. Were there other instances of sexual assault committed by former members of the Team, going back several years, for which the “Statutes of Limitations” have not yet expired, and thus other arrests can be made?
2. Did any members of the Football Team abuse anabolic steroids? The answer to this question has two very important implications. First, although not a legal matter, but a matter of Pride to many residents of Sayreville, if true it would suggest that the success attained by the football team in recent years was the result of fraud, obtained through the temporary strength-enhancing effects of the drugs, the detrimental long-term effects of the drugs to be a consequence visited upon the athletes years, even decades, later. Secondly, any proven use of steroids by team members could likely impact on any upcoming criminal prosecutions, as well as expected Civil lawsuits to be filed by the alleged victims in this case.
The effects of steroids on human behavior is well documented; bizarre, unspeakable acts of aggression similar to those alleged in the Sayreville case are commonly referred to as “Roid Rage,” in which the abuser erupts into fits of violence and irrational behavior. (6) Many residents of the New York and New Jersey area have seen disturbing similarities in the Sayreville case and that of a police brutality case that occurred in New York City in 1997. In that case, Justin Volpe, a New York City Police Officer, was charged in Brooklyn Federal Court of violently ramming a broken-off mop handle into the anal cavity of a hand-cuffed prisoner, Abner Louima, with such force that it nearly killed him, perforating his colon and bladder. Volpe then rammed the wooden weapon, covered with Louima’s blood and feces, into Louima’s mouth with such force that one of Louima’s teeth was broken.
The trial of Justin Volpe and his 4 alleged accomplices was one of the most disturbing cases of police brutality in American history. From the moment Volpe was first arrested, reporters investigated the possibility that Volpe was abusing anabolic steroids. Volpe’s father, my friend Bob Volpe, was a decorated former NYPD Detective who was passionate in his opposition to drugs. Justin’s criminal lawyer prohibited him from speaking to reporters, so this issue was broached with his father, who denied that his son ever used steroids. Our disagreement on this issue did not stop Bob Volpe from inviting me to sit next to him in Court during his son’s sensational trial. The Village Voice would report my role in convincing Bob to persuade his son to plead Guilty mid-trial, even though a plea-bargain was ruled out by the Federal Prosecutors. (7) My friendship with Bob Volpe and his family continued until his death, despite my publishing several stories accusing his son of having abused steroids. Post-conviction, Bob continued to deny that his son used steroids, but he did claim that more than one of Justin’s Co-Defendants had.
Steroids abuse is to be found primarily among 4 groups; police officers, firefighters, athletes, and members of organized crime. Athletes take the drugs to boost their performance, whereas the others take the drugs because they believe that steroids enhance their strength, and thus improve their own personal safety whenever dangerous situations, inherent to their occupations, suddenly arise. The problem with investigations regarding potential steroids abuse is a "culture of silence" which precludes members of these groups from speaking about illegal activities they engage in. In law enforcement, the term for this is "The Blue Wall of Silence." For the Mafia, the term is "Omerta." When it comes to steroids use, recent history regarding some of the most successful athletes in American sports reveals a consistant, universal pattern; an athlete accused of steroids use will deny using such drugs, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Such a culture is just one obstacle to be overcome by those in law enforcement, the Education profession, and the Media in the exploration for possible explanations for what happened in Sayreville.
PART ONE: A BRIEF HISTORY OF STEROIDS
Modern Sports can be traced to the first civilizations of Ancient Greece. Greek culture worshiped the human body as an ideal which is reflected in it’s sculpture and literature, much of which survives to this very day. In the Eighth Century B. C. the “Greek ideal” reached it’s zenith with the establishment of the ‘Olympics,’ contests that pitted men against each other in a variety of athletic events. Held every four years, the games quickly evolved into a national obsession, with the various Greek city-states devoting increasing resources to the training of their young athletes. The Greek Olympics ran for 1200 years before being banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in the 4th Century A. D. Fifteen centuries later the ancient Greek Olympic games were resurrected,with the first Modern games celebrated in Athens, Greece in 1896. (1)
The production of steroids and methamphetamine in Germany during the 1930s led to a widespread belief that both drugs made their debut as performance enhancing substances in male and female athletes competing on behalf of Germany during the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. A motivating factor for such use was the fact that Adolph Hitler sought to use his country's expected success at the "Nazi Olympics" as "proof" that his Racist belief of German superiority as the "Master Race" was valid. Although no credible evidence regarding drugs and German athletes has emerged, Hitler's Racist theories were invalidated by the success of the African-American athlete Jesse Owens, who won 4 Gold Medals in Track and Field events. A half of a Century would pass before Owens' achievement would be surpassed by the African-American athlete Carl Lewis, who also achieved his victories without using steroids. Steroid use among Olympic athletes does not conclusively appear until after World War II. The advent of the “Cold War” brought intense competition between those nations under Communist subjugation versus those of the Capitalist West. The Communists sought the propaganda value of success at the Olympics as “proof” that their system of government was superior. By the 1960s steroids use was becoming commonplace among athletes behind the Iron Curtain, most infamously those, both male and female, in East Germany. (2)
The International Olympic Committee finally banned steroids in 1967, but some Communist countries routinely ignored these rules. Some athletes in the West thus felt it necessary to partake of steroids themselves in order to stay competitive with their Communist opponents. A term would come into the jargon of athletes to rationalize such abuse of these drugs: "If you don't take it, you won't make it!" (3) Thus, athletes in the West descended into a period of decades during which young men and women trained on drugs - steroids - with devastating consequences to their long-term health, as well as the damage to Society these drugs would bring. One consequence of the Cold War was the emergence of a market for these drugs, a market the American Mafia was all too eager to capitalize on.
During the 1970s two sports, professional football and bodybuilding, would become enormously popular. In the first Super Bowl held in 1967, the lack of public interest in this game was evidenced by the fact that there were over 30,000 empty seats in the stadium. (4) Within just 10 years, the Super Bowl had become a national obsession, with the game televised to millions of viewers. For the American Mafia, this provided an opportunity to rake in millions of dollars in long-established gambling rackets in which Americans placed bets on a sporting event’s outcome. Suddenly professional football was big business, and players’ salaries sky-rocketed. Players became bigger, stronger, and faster and steroids played a key role in this process.
The sport and practice of bodybuilding also became something of a national obsession beginning in the 1970s. An Austrian named Arnold Schwarzenegger would attain multiple titles in his sport and admit in various interviews, as well as in his own autobiography that he used steroids, which were not illegal then.
During that time the American Mafia began to recognize the enormous profits that were to be made in both the trafficking of drugs - including steroids - as well as the production and distribution of pornography. In 1972, members of the Colombo Mafia Family in New York, Joseph Peraino and his son, Joseph, Jr. produced the porn motion picture “Deep Throat.” That same year, on the West Coast, brothers Jim Mitchell and Artie Mitchell produced a similar film, “Behind the Green Door,” the story of a young woman who is kidnaped and raped by a gang of both men and women. Were that film to be made today, there would be an outcry nationwide by Feminist organizations. Back in 1972, the film received little criticism. Ben Davidson, a former All-Pro member of the Oakland Raiders football team, appeared in a speaking role in the film, and would later appear in the Arnold Schwarzenegger epic “Conan the Barbarian.” (5)
The fruits of these two porn films for their Producers was millions of dollars - and murder. In 1982, members of the Colombo Family, fighting over shares of the profits from “Deep Throat,” hatched a plot to murder the Producers of the film. During a public gunfight on the streets of Brooklyn, Joseph Peraino was injured and his young son killed. A retired Catholic Nun, Veronica Zuraw, who was doing her laundry inside her modest home, was struck and killed by a stray bullet that crashed into her house. (6) In 1991, Jim Mitchell took a rifle with him to his younger brother Artie’s home, and during an angry confrontation, shot him dead. He served just 3 years in prison. (7)
As America’s appetite for steroids increased, so did the evidence of the dangers of such use slowly begin to emerge. When artificial steroids are introduced into a male body, side effects include increased incidences of liver tumors, high blood pressure, with resultant heart attacks and strokes, and prostate cancer. Men who abuse steroids can experience dramatic increases in their libido, and then, later, atrophy of testicles, enlarged breasts, reduced sperm count, and hair loss. Women who take steroids are masculinized and often lose the ability to produce children. (8)
The difference in the physical appearance of those who take steroids can often be noticed by those in the sports world who do not take them. Carl Lewis is one notable example of someone who knew steroids when he saw them, and had the courage to speak out against these drugs. It was during his competition in the 1987 World Championships in Rome that Lewis publicly suggested that some athletes competing against him were using steroids. Absent laboratory tests, Lewis pronouncements were indeed subjective, and were blasted by Dr. Leroy Walker, President of the Athletics Congress, who complained that Lewis had tainted the Championships without hard evidence. (9) A year later, Carl Lewis would be proven correct at the 1988 Olympic Games. Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who had beaten Lewis the year before in the 100 meter run, would do so again in what was one of the most sensational events in Olympic sports history. As the race began, the physical difference between the two athletes was quite noticable. When blood tests revealed that Johnson had been using steroids, the International Olympic Committee stripped Johnson of his Gold Medal and awarded it to Lewis. (10) Lewis would eventually win 10 Olympic Medals in Track and Field events, 9 of those Gold, as well as 10 World Championships medals, 8 of them Gold. The International Olympic Committee would eventually name Carl Lewis the "Sportsman of the Century" and Sports Illustrated Magazine would name Lewis the "Olympian of the Century." (11)
In 1988, Steve Courson, an Offensive Linemen on the Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team that won 4 Super Bowls during the 1970s, was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. Advised that he would not live without a heart transplant, Courson fought back with diet and exercise and recovered his health without surgery. In litigation Courson blamed his use of alcohol and steroids for his heart condition. Courson went on to write the book ‘False Glory: Steelers and Steroids,’ his personal account of steroids abuse and the affects they had over time on his body. In 1992 former Oakland Raiders All-Pro Lyle Alzado died of a rare brain tumor that he blamed on his massive use of steroids. Alzado was 43 years young at his death. (12)
Faced with the growing evidence against steroids, in 1989 the United States Olympic Committee adopted a drug-control program based on the model of that taken earlier by the International Olympics Committee. In 1990, Congress passed the Crime Control Act, legislation which made the possession and distribution of steroids a Federal crime. One of the first notable Federal prosecutions involving steroids trafficking took place in New York in 1994, when Vince McMahon, President of the World Wrestling Federation, was put on trial. McMahon was accused of supplying steroids to the bodybuilders who performed for him in his business and faced 8 years in prison. After a sensational trial that featured some of the top names in the business, McMahon was acquitted. (13)
New York was also the setting for the trial of Gambino Family Godfather John Gotti, who was finally convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992. Defense attorneys sought to discredit the key witness against Gotti, former Underboss Sammy Gravano, who was addicted to expensive synthetic anabolic steroids. Gravano was believed to have had a complex about his short stature and thus began ‘bulking up’ with the help of steroids, further cementing his nickname “The Bull.” (14) In exchange for testifying against Gotti, Gravano spent just 5 years in prison for committing 19 murders. Once released from prison, Gravano set up his teen-aged son and daughter in a gang that trafficked drugs, including steroids, in 4 States. (15)
In 1997, a coaching scandal in Virginia became the subject for debate for members of Congress considering the proposed bill “ENDA,” the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” the purpose of which was to provide Federal protection against discrimination in the workplace in regards to sexual orientation. One key Sponsor of the Bill was Congressman Barney Frank, who was Reprimanded by Congress in 1990 for using the official position of his office to fix parking tickets and others acts on behalf of a young male prostitute whom he had hired for sex and then hired as a personal assistant. Speaking in opposition to the Bill, Senator Don Nickles brought up the case from a year earlier of a popular football coach at a suburban school in Virginia whom it was discovered moonlighted as a performer in pornographic movies. It was subsequently alleged that the Coach was an anabolic steroids abuser. Senator Nickels noted that if ENDA was passed, a school district could not fire such a Coach, and instead the district could be sued if they did so. Senator John Ashcroft also opposed the legislation, stating that teachers and coaches are role models for teen-agers and thus should be held to higher standards. To this day, ENDA has not been passed by Congress.
Steroids were blamed in 2007 for the murderous rampage that professional wrestler Chris Benoit engaged in, killing his wife and their 7 year old son before hanging himself on his weight lifting machine. (16)
During the latter part of the 1990s, chemists found ways around the anti-steroids laws by creating chemicals and substances that had the same effect on the human body as steroids but had not yet been legally designated as such. One such supplement was Androstenedione, a substance that was banned by professional basketball and football but not by baseball. Thus, slugger Mark McGwire was able to use this substance - legally - during his bid in 1998 to break Roger Maris’ homerun record. McGwire confessed to his use of this substance in 2010. (17)
The abuse of substances such as these were first widely publicized in 2004, in what is known as the “Balco Scandal,” the “Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative,” a business that supplied nutritional supplements to professional athletes. An investigation by Agents of the DEA resulted in an Indictment again BALCO owner Victor Conte on charges of providing illegal steroids that wound up in the bodies of several major league baseball players. As the scandal grew, several players were subpoenaed to testify before the Grand Jury that indicted Conte, including sluggers Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. (18) Track star Marion Jones, who was also implicated in the BALCO scandal, pleaded Guilty to related Perjury charges, and was stripped of the 5 Medals she won in the 2000 Olympic games. (19)
Just 2 months ago, another arrest was made in regards to those who allegedly supply steroids to athletes. A case in Florida, involving high-profile professional athletes and the firm Biogenesis, provided an Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration an opportunity to make a statement regarding someone arrested - and reportedly co-operating - for supplying steroids to athletes. “Let me make this clear,” said DEA Agent Mark Trouville. “He (the supplier) is not a doctor. He is a drug dealer.” (20)
PART TWO: THE ABNER LOUIMA INCIDENT
In November, 1993, this reporter was preparing a Feature article for a magazine regarding retired NYPD Detective Bob Volpe. At a private club in Manhattan of which Volpe was the President, I interviewed Volpe, whose stipulation was that I not refer to him as a “Hero Cop,” but instead mention 2 of his former partners who were murdered by drug dealers. Bob then introduced me to his young son Justin, who had just become a Police Officer for the NYPD. Justin was just 21 years young.
Four years later, Justin Volpe committed one of the most sadistic acts of police brutality in American history. In the early morning hours of August 9, 1997, a call was made to Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct regarding a fight that had spilt into the street outside a nightclub called the ‘Rendez-vous.’ Two women, patrons of the club, were fighting, one of whom was completely naked. A crowd of spectators had surrounded the two women, howling their encouragement to the two combatants.
Cops arrived from the 70th Precinct to break up the fight and disburse the crowd that had brought traffic on the avenue to a halt. While Officer Volpe was doing so he was suddenly blindsided when a Haitian immigrant sucker-punched him in the ear. Abner Louima and his cousin Patrick Antoine were arrested by cops at the scene and taken to the 70th Precinct. Louima was booked at the front desk and his belt was removed as a standard procedure to prevent prisoners from hanging themselves. Louima’s oversized pants then fell to his ankles. As Louima was not wearing underwear, his naked buttocks were exposed as he was marched further into the station house by a cop, Louima’s hands cuffed behind his back.
Louima was then taken inside the bathroom. There, a violently angry Justin Volpe, bells still ringing inside his head from the assault to his brain, was waiting for him. Volpe was anxious to exact his revenge upon the man he was convinced was the one who assaulted him on the street. First, Volpe had borrowed some gloves from a fellow cop, an indication that he believed his hands would encounter blood - or worse - during his attack. Looking for something to beat Louima with, Volpe found a mop and broke off the wooden handle, fashioning for himself a weapon, round and smooth on one end, jagged and sharp on the other. It was the sharp end that Volpe would use against the handcuffed immigrant.
The bathroom where Louima was to be assaulted had been a crime scene once before. One day back in April, 1993, a heroin dealer in custody, Danny Cook, asked to be taken to that bathroom. Cook was led in by Officer Robert Noblin. Cook was handcuffed but with one hand free. Cook then grabbed Noblin’s service revolver and began firing, striking Noblin in the neck and torso and another Officer, Mary Capotosto, in the head. Cook then committed suicide.
This tragedy could possibly have been prevented if the NYPD had adopted stricter security standards when dealing with prisoners after a similar incident two decades earlier. On February 15, 1971 Detective Joseph Picciano of the 41st Precinct was fingerprinting a prisoner when the man suddenly jumped Picciano and was able to grab his service revolver. Detective Picciano was killed by the prisoner who was then shot to death by other officers. Picciano, who left behind a wife and three kids, was the partner of narcotics officer Bob Volpe.
Because of the shooting incident in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct in 1993, an unwritten rule was established that the bathroom door would be propped open at all times by a garbage can. But when Abner Louima was marched into that bathroom on that night in 1997, Justin Volpe, knowing that he was about to brutalize Louima, knew that the door had to be closed so no one could see the crime he was determined to commit. Thus, there were 2 cops alone in the bathroom with Abner Louima when the assault began.
First, Justin Volpe began beating the standing Louima across his body with his stick. “Why did you hit me?” he screamed. Louima did not answer. “Why did you hit me?” Volpe screamed again. Once again, Louima did not answer. Within no more than 2 minutes, Louima was speared by Volpe’s weapon, first penetrating his anal cavity, puncturing his colon and bladder, and then breaking off one of the handcuffed prisoner’s teeth with the stick, covered with Louima's own feces and blood. Although Volpe would deny ramming the stick into Louima's mouth, he would admit in a Court proceeding that after the assault he screamed at Louima: “Look what you made me do!” (1)
At Volpe’s trial, when Abner Louima testified in Court as to what Volpe had done to him, there was absolute silence. Sitting next to Volpe’s father, it did not escape my notice that 2 of the jurors were in tears. But even then, Bob Volpe continued to be in Denial as to the horrific crime his beloved son had committed. Only with the testimony of Patrick Antoine was Bob Volpe in a condition in which he could be counseled as to what step he needed to take on behalf of his son. Antoine testified that after Volpe confronted Louima, Volpe then confronted him. Volpe told Antoine that he thought he was going crazy. They then spoke about their common Christian Faith.
After Antoine’s testimony, I pulled Bob aside and told him that unless he convinced Justin to Plead Guilty and ask the Court for leniency, he would be convicted and receive a Sentence of Life in prison. Bob Volpe did just that, and the Judge later sentenced Volpe to the Minimum sentence. (2) 30 years after Justin Volpe entered a Federal prison, he will once again live as a free man. But his father will not be there to welcome him. Bob was never the same after his son’s conviction; the stress weighed heavily upon him. He died in 2006 in the arms of his wife Grace, when his heart could no longer go on.
This was not the end to this story. There was still the matter of another New York City Police Officer, who was murdered on the streets of Brooklyn just 17 days after the Abner Louima assault. His name was Ralph Dols, a bodybuilder who moonlighted as a Bouncer for Russian clubs and lived in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Three weeks before his murder, Dols called the cops to a Russian bar to arrest a drunken patron who had fired a gun into the air. En route to the hospital after his shooting, a cop asked Dols’ if his attackers were Russian. Dols answered that he did not know, and only described them as White. Thus, law enforcement suspected early on that members of the Russian Mob that ruled that part of Southern Brooklyn could have been responsible for Dols’ murder. But investigators also looked at the Colombo Mafia Family. Officer Dols was married to a woman named Kim Kennaugh. Her brother August was a Colombo, and was convicted in 1981 for the murder of a New York restaurant owner. Kennaugh’s second husband, Enrico Carini, was also a member of the Colombo Family, until he was murdered alongside his brother in Brooklyn in 1987. Once widowed, Kennaugh married Colombo Mob figure Joel Cacace, and after divorcing him, married yet another man destined to be murdered, Officer Dols. (3) (4)
Investigators would later pursue a theory that Dols was selling anabolic steroids to cops in Brooklyn that he got from suppliers in the Russian Mob. (5) (6) Two members of the Russian Mob were later identified as suspects in Dols’ murder and were themselves under Indictment for the1995 murder of Serge Kobozev. (7) Kobozev had immigrated to Brooklyn in 1991. A Boxer, Kobozev represented the Soviet Union in boxing competition at the Olympic Games in 1988. Once in the United States, Kobozev continued his boxing career, winning an impressive 22 bouts in a row until his first defeat in 1995. Kobozev was making good money here in the United States, so it’s not quite clear why he chose to moonlight as a Bouncer for Russian clubs in Brooklyn. He didn’t need the money, and this sideline would cost him his life. In November, 1995 Kobozev broke up a fight in a Brooklyn nightclub where he was working. He later disappeared and his body was discovered in 1999 in a shallow grave in Livingston, New Jersey. Eventually, 2 members of the Russian Mob, whom Kobozev had encountered at the nightclub in question, were convicted of kidnaping and murdering the rising star in the boxing world. Kobozev was 24 years old when he was murdered. (8)
Eventually, the Feds in Brooklyn charged Colombo Family members “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, Dino Saracino, and Joel Cacace for the murder of Officer Dols. In 2012, Gioeli and Saracino were Acquitted. (9) In a separate trial in 2013, Joel Cacace was also Acquitted. (10) In both trials, jurors rejected the testimony of Dino Calabro, who, along with Greg Scarpa and Whitey Bulger, are the subjects of considerable controversy given their employment as FBI Informants.
Ralph Dols and Justin Volpe are not alone in regards to cops accused of using steroids. In 2010, the Star-Ledger newspaper unveiled a three-part Series which revealed that a New Jersey doctor had provided steroids to hundreds of cops and firefighters in the region. Lowen’s pharmacy in Brooklyn was involved in the massive steroids distribution racket, but as investigators were closing in on their targets, the pharmacy’s owner, John Rossi, was found dead, an alleged suicide. Rossi’s death in January, 2008 was viewed suspiciously by some given that he shot himself not once but twice and also because he was involved with members of the American Mafia. In May of that year, Ed Shinnick, who headed the Jersey City Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit, was also found dead, having also allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself not once but twice. At the time of his death, Shinnick was investigating 40 of his fellow cops suspected of buying steroids from this drug gang. (11)
Problems regarding cops and steroids in New Jersey dates back to at least 1995, when the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office arrested a local cop on steroids charges. The cop was convicted, but an Appeals Court later overturned that conviction, whereupon the cop filed a lawsuit in order to be re-instated as a police officer. That effort was unsuccessful. (12)
The problem of steroids use by members of law enforcement is, in fact, nationwide, according to an acclaimed 2004 report by Philip J. Sweitzer of DePaul University. (l3)
At this point, it is too early to determine what extent steroids is a factor in the Sayreville scandals. Certainly, investigators will try to determine where the steroids the Football Coach was caught with were manufactured, how they got into this country, if from abroad, who the traffickers were who sold the Coach the drugs, and for whom those drugs were intended. The troubled history of Consensual Searches may also become a factor in the disposition of this case. As revealed in this narrative, selling, buying, and using anabolic steroids can lead to dangers other than the effects the drugs are known to have on the human mind and body.
The other criminal case involves the 7 young men accused. While “hazing” and “bullying" are common occurrences in groups of young men, the allegations in this case are indeed extreme. Investigators will have to determine whether societal and cultural pressures can adequately explain these behaviors, or whether some sort of substance abuse may also be a factor. Indeed, the parallels to the Abner Louima case are disturbing.
This case, as well as that of the Coach, could both very easily be plea bargained out, one result being the deprivation of those in the news Media of covering a trial which by default reveals much more of the details of such cases.
Inevitably, however, one can expect Civil Suits filed by lawyers seeking compensation for their clients - as well as themselves - attempting to ascribe liability on the part of the school district. These lawsuits typically go to trial and can receive substantial attention by the Media. A lack of supervision of the football team seems one logical argument to be made in such a lawsuit. But there may be other factors to be considered as well. Thus, this story is not likely to be resolved anytime soon in regards to exactly what happened in Sayreville.
Related Features by this Author:
“Unhappy Valley: Crime and Cover-up at Penn State. November, 2011.http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_485.html
“17 Days in August: A Tale of Cops, Steroids, and the Mob!: Part Two: The Author’s Personal Revisiting of a Landmark Case,” August, 2007.http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_395.html
Prologue1. “Sayreville Football Parent Reveals Sexual Nature of Alleged Locker Room Hazing Ritual,” an Exclusive by Matthew Stanmyre. NJ Advance Media for NJ.Com. October 8, 2014.
2. “Board Approves Sayreville Football Coaches’ Suspensions in High School Hazing Case,” by Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Nate Schweber. The New York Times, October 23, 2014.
3. “Unhappy Valley,” by the author. American Mafia Magazine, November, 2011.
4. “Sayreville Assistant Coach Busted on Steroid Charge,” by Greg Tufaro. MyCentralJersey.com., October 3, 2014.
5. “Cops: Sayreville Coach in Steroid Bust at Seedy Hotel,” by Mike Deak. MyCentralJersey.com. October 4, 2014.
6. “Affective and Psychotic Symptoms Associated with Anabolic Steroid Use,” by Dr. Harrison G. Pope, Jr. and Dr. David L. Katz, American Journal of Psychiatry, April, 1988.
7. “The Making of a Guilty Plea: Volpe Family Adviser Played Key Role,” by Peter Noel. The Village Voice, May 25, 1999.
1. "The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games," by Allen Guttmann. University of Illinois Press, 1992.
2. “Steroids: A New Look at Performance-Enhancing Drugs,” by Rob Beamish. Praeger, 2011.
3. "One Mystery is Why Ben Johnson Was Caught," by Randy Harvey. The Los Angeles Times, May 29, 1989.
4. “Green Bay Packers: Titletown Trivia Teasers,” by Don Davenport. Prairie Oak Press, 1997.
5. From the Internet Movie Data Base website.
6. "The Wiseguy and the Nun: How Salvatore Miciotta Got Away with Murder," by Bill Bastone. The Village Voice, February 9, 1999.
7. “Pornographer Leaves Prison After Serving 3 Years for Killing Brother,” by the Associated Press. October 3, 1997.
8. “Anabolic Steroids in Sports and Exercise,” by Charles E. Yesalis. Human Kinetics Publishing, 1993.
9. "Lewis Claims Some Medalists Using Illegal Drugs," by Randy Harvey. The Los Angeles Times, September 6, 1987.
10. “N. J. Doctor Supplied Steroids to Hundreds of Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters,” by Amy Brittain and Mark Mueller. The Star-Ledger, December 12, 2010. Part of a three-part series, “Strong at Any Cost.”
11. "Catching Up With Olympic Legend Carl Lewis," by Bryan Hood. New York Magazine, July 26, 2012.
12. “Lyle Alzado Remains the Reminder That Steroid Users Cheating Selves,” by Sid Dorfman. The Star-Ledger, August 13, 2013.
13. “The Fixer,” by William Bastone. The Village Voice, December 19, 1995.
14. “Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family,” by John H. Davis. Harper Collins, 1994.
15. “The Agony of Ecstasy: The Fall of Sammy Gravano and Peter Gatien. by the author, American Mafia, September, 2002.
16. “Chris Benoit: Was Roid Rage to Blame? Pro Westler’s Alleged Murder-Suicide Spurs Questions About Roid Rage and Anabolic Steroids,” by Miranda Hitti. WebMD.com, 2007.
17. “Mark McGwire Through the Years,” by Mel Antonen. USA Today, January 11, 2010.
18. “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports,” by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. Gotham Publishers, 2006.
19. “Marion Jones Sentenced to Six Months in Prison,” by Michael S. Schmidt and Duff Wilson. The New York Times, January 12, 2008.
20. “Criminal Charges Filed in Baseball’s Biogenesis Steroid Scandal; A-Rod’s Cousin Arrested,” by Julie K. Brown, Carol Marbin Miller, and Jay Weaver. The Miami Herald, August 5, 2014.
Except where specifically noted, source material for Part Two is from prior stories published by this author at American Mafia, and from Courtroom testimony and proceedings attended by the author.
1. "Ex-Officer Details Surge of Rage as he Began Attack on Louima," by Alan Feuer. The New York Times, February 18, 2000.
2. “The Making of a Guilty Plea: Volpe Family Adviser Played Key Role,” by Peter Noel. The Village Voice, May 25, 1999.
3. “Police Link a Stolen Car Found in Brooklyn to an Officer’s Murder,” by Michael Cooper. The New York Times, August 29, 1997.
4. “Slain Officer is Mourned as Mob Inquiry Proceeds,” by Elisabeth Bumiller. The New York Times, August 30, 1997.
5. “Slain Cop Linked to Steroid Ring: Report,” by Bill Sanderson. The New York Post, August13, 1999.
6. “Steroid Link Examined in Cop’s Killing,” by William K. Rashbaum and John Marzulli. The New York Daily News, August 13, 1999.
7. “Russian Duo Eyed in Cop’s Slaying,” by Dareh Gregorian. The New York Post, June 11, 2000.
8. “The Murder of a Russian Boxer: Sergei Kobozev Lost His Last Fight - To Mobsters,” by Candace Rondeaux. The Village Voice, February 19, 2002.
9. “Colombo ‘Killers’ Beat Murder Rap,” by Mitchel Maddux. The New York Post, May 10, 2012.
10. “Jury Acquits Mobster in ‘97 Killing of Officer,” by Mosi Secret. The New York Times, November 26, 2013.
11. “N. J. Doctor Supplied Steroids to Hundreds of Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters,” by Amy Brittain and Mark Mueller. The Star-Ledger, December 12, 2010. Part of a three-part series, “Strong at Any Cost.”
12. A Decision of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County. April 28, 2000.
13. “Drug Law Enforcement in Crisis: Cops on Steroids,” by Philip J. Sweitzer. DePaul Journal of Sports Law & Contemporary Problems, June, 2004.
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