Opiate and Heroin Epidemic

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Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and Rockaway Borough Police Chief Doug Scheer announce that the Community Outreach Program concerning the Opiate and Heroin epidemic was productive and educational. The event was a joint effort by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the Rockaway Borough Police Department to provide valuable information to the community. Held at the Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, New Jersey on Tuesday June 7, 2016 from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm, the audience, consisting of many concerned residents and those affected by the epidemic, was captivated by what they heard.

Rockaway Borough Police Chief Doug Scheer opened the event with passionate remarks about the epidemic, and how the community of Rockaway Borough has been affected. Chief Scheer was followed by Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp.

Prosecutor Knapp conveyed that, as with many counties throughout New Jersey, Morris County has been adversely affected by the Opiate and Heroin epidemic. He emphasized that the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is aggressively pursuing “For-Profit” distributers of Opiates and Heroin with vigorous prosecution and incarceration. Moreover, Prosecutor Knapp is a proponent of intervention and treatment for the nonviolent drug addicted user, rather than incarceration. He agrees that addiction is a disease that many people suffer from and should be treated as such. Lastly, Prosecutor Knapp discussed the relatively new introduction of Narcan, which is now supplied to first responders as a life saving measure, for use on those who overdose on Opiates or Heroin and face imminent death. Narcan reverses the effect of the overdose on the body, and since its implementation in Morris County, has resulted in 44 lives saved by police officers during 2015. Unfortunately, during that same year, 43 people lost their lives due to an Opiate overdose.

A PowerPoint presentation was given by Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seabury is in charge of the “Special Operations Division”, which focuses on illegal drug trafficking. He has been prosecuting narcotics cases for nearly ten (10) years and is a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

The presentation shed light on the epidemic and how the use of Opiates typically begins. Often times a physical injury will lead to the use of legally prescribed pain killers which are commonly Opiate-based. Depending on the individual and the duration of the medicinal use, addiction may occur. When the legally prescribed medication is exhausted, the person may move on to illegally-sold Opioid-based prescription medication that can be very expensive. Many times, Heroin will follow because of its cheap price and availability. Due to the debilitating effects, Opiate addicts will often lose their employment and resort to crime to “feed” their habit. Crimes may range from petty thefts to burglaries to robberies. Opiate and Heroin addiction does not discriminate. It affects those of all ages, socioeconomic status, gender, race and ethnicity. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seabury also provided some alarming statistics including that the United States consists of about 4.6% of the world’s population, but consumes 80% of the world’s Opioids and 99% of the world’s hydrocodone, the Opiate that is in Vicodin. Unfortunately, drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seabury stressed to the audience that we as a community need to work together to combat this epidemic. He explained that law enforcement needs to tackle this epidemic as part of its life saving mission and to seek rehabilitation for drug addicted offenders as a strategy to reduce overall crime in the County. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seabury is also encouraged by the growing partnerships law enforcement is making with rehabilitation groups to assist in the overall crime reducing strategy.

Tara Barnard was a guest speaker for the event and spoke passionately about her brother Anthony’s fight with Opiate and Heroin addiction, and the family’s struggle to help him get help. The talk was actually a walk through his life in both his eyes, and the eyes of the family as he fought hard with the struggle with the addiction, the difficulties with getting treatment, and eventually the struggle to stay clean. While he may have lost his fight at the age of 28, his desire to beat addiction is carrying on through the family as they have spoken in front of Congress to move the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and have it signed into law. Their hard work and efforts to help others did not go unnoticed by those in attendance and was a true inspiration to many who face the struggle with Opiate addiction every day. It is his story that reinforces the work that must be done on all fronts to address this epidemic and support the families as they continue their fight.

Among numerous other drug addiction intervention and recovery organizations, representatives from “CARES” and “Morris County Prevention is Key” were present to speak with those addicted to Opiates and their family members. Also, volunteers whose lives have been touched by Opiate addiction were present and available for one-on-one discussions before and after the event. Representatives from Rockaway Township Police, Wharton Police, Denville Police and Rockaway Borough Police were also present during the event.

Prosecutor Knapp and Chief Scheer urge everyone to discard old or unused medication in one of the many drop boxes located throughout Morris County. For a list of locations,
please log on to http://safehealthymorris.org/dropbox/.
Due to environmental concerns, please avoid flushing medications in the toilet or discarding them in the regular garbage.

Inquiries concerning this Media Release should be directed to Agent Paul Merkler at [email protected] or 973-285-6215.

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is Re-Accredited

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and Chief of Investigations John Speirs announce that on June 9, 2016, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office was awarded with re-accreditation status by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. (NJSACOP)

The NJSACOP Accreditation Program consists of one hundred and five (105) professional standards, many of which have multiple objectives. These standards address numerous issues including, but not limited to Direction of Personnel, Training, Selection of Personnel, Arrest, Search and Seizure, Interview and Interrogation, and the Quality Control of Evidence. The process is a rigorous three (3) year internal self-analysis of agency operations. It ensures that policies and procedures are current, reflect societal demands, and are consistent with best practices for law enforcement in the state of New Jersey. After the three (3) year process, a team of NJSACOP trained and independent assessors review the policies, procedures and agency operations as a whole. To become accredited, the policies and procedures must be approved by the assessors, and there must be definitive proof of personnel adherence.

Initially accredited in 2013, this is the first re-accreditation award that the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office has received. It is the intention of this office to maintain accreditation status for future years.

Prosecutor Knapp said “Anytime you have independent professionals examining how you conduct business and ultimately endorsing your performance, it is very satisfying. The fact that the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is accredited is directly attributed to the fine men and women of this office who serve the residents of Morris County every day”

Inquiries concerning this Media Release should be directed to Agent Paul Merkler at [email protected] or 973-285-6215.

Morristown Man Sentenced For His Role In Drug Trafficking Network

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announces the sentencing of George R. Washington, 51, of Morristown, New Jersey. On May 24, 2016, Washington pled guilty to third degree Possession With Intent to Distribute Cocaine and second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substances. As part of the plea agreement, Mr. Washington forfeited $8,330 in United States currency and two motor vehicles.

On Friday, June 3, 2016, the Honorable Stephen J. Taylor, P.J.Cr. sentenced Washington to eight (8) years in New Jersey State Prison. Washington is required to serve forty two (42) months before being considered for parole. On a motion by the State for an extended prison term, the Court imposed the sentence based upon Mr. Washington’s status as a repeat offender related to drug distribution. Judge Taylor also imposed a concurrent seven (7) year state prison term on the Conspiracy count. Mr. Washington is the first defendant of the twenty five (25) arrested in connection with the investigation, to be sentenced.

In January 2016, members of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Special Enforcement Unit/Narcotics Task Force, developed intelligence that George R. Washington and his brother Ronald G. Washington were obtaining a significant supply of heroin and cocaine from a source in Passaic County. The imported cocaine and heroin was then sold in Morristown, Victory Gardens, Dover, and surrounding areas. The three (3) month long investigation culminated in March 2016, with the arrest of Washington and twenty four (24) other individuals. Also, the execution of several search warrants resulted in the seizure of fifty five (55) grams of cocaine, fourteen hundred (1400) individual folds of heroin, over $33,500 in United States currency, various packaging and drug distribution-related materials, handgun ammunition and eleven (11) motor vehicles.

Prosecutor Knapp stated “The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office will continue to seek incarceration of convicted for-profit drug dealers as a deterrent to such criminal activity. This sentence imposed by the Court will hopefully deter not just this defendant but others who engage in similar criminal activity”.

The investigation was completed by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Special Operations Division. The lead investigators on the case were Task Force Officer Edward Zienowicz of the Morris County Narcotics Task Force and Detective Scott Pino of the Morristown Bureau of Police. The case was prosecuted by Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Assistant Prosecutor Erin Callahan.

Prosecutor Knapp wishes to thank the following agencies for their invaluable assistance and commitment to the Task Force: Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Special Enforcement Unit, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Morris County Park Police, New Jersey State Police, Morristown Bureau of Police, Florham Park Police Department, Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department, Dover Police Department, Roxbury Township Police Department, Morris Township Police Department, Mendham Township Police Department, Chester Township Police Department, Madison Borough Police Department, Chatham Township Police Department, Chatham Borough Police Department, Chester Borough Police Department, Fairfield Police Department, Randolph Township Police Department, Butler Police Department, Mt. Arlington Police Department, Lincoln Park Police Department, Harding Township Police Department, Wharton Borough Police Department, Jefferson Township Police Department, Hopatcong Police Department, Hanover Township Police Department, Rockaway Township Police Department, Morris Plains Police Department, and the Clifton Police Department.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite this accusation, the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until he or she has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Inquiries regarding this Media Release should be directed to Agent Paul Merkler at [email protected] or 973-285-6215