Cop Sentenced for Running Massive Steroid Ring — Is ‘Roid Rage’ Behind the Worst Police Abuses?
Article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.
Hartford, CT — There is no question that many police officers use performance enhancing drugs. In fact, the problem of police steroid use became so bad, in 2004, the DEA intervened to warn of the “possible psychological disturbances” of roid-raging cops.
The DEA said symptoms included:
- Mood swings (including manic-like symptoms leading to violence)
- Impaired judgment (stemming from feelings of invincibility)
- Extreme irritability
- Hostility and aggression
Eventually, a few years later, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, made up of 16,000 members worldwide set a standard that “calls upon state and local law enforcement entities to establish a model policy prohibiting the use of illegally obtained steroids” by officers.
However, this policy never happened.
Not only do cops vehemently resist being drug tested by their departments, claiming it is a violation of their civil rights, they are also frequently caught selling steroids.
“This is one of the dirty little secrets of American law enforcement,” says Gregory Gilbertson, a former Atlanta cop who teaches criminal justice in the Seattle area and works as a legal expert on police standards and practices, according to Alternet. “Steroid testing is declining, and I think there’s an attitude in all these agencies of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ because they don’t want to know about it. Because if they know about it, then they have to address it.”
Former Newtown police sergeant Steven Santucci had a salary of $80,000 a year. So, when he began taking $30,000-$100,000 vacations, the department could no longer ignore it and launched an investigation. In April of last year, Santucci was arrested for being the “ringleader” of a 12-man anabolic steroids manufacturing and distribution network, which also involved a member of the dispatch, Jason Chickos.
At the beginning of the year, Santucci pleaded guilty to two drug-related felonies — conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute anabolic steroids, and conspiracy to launder money. However, because of his blue privilege, his sentencing was delayed for nearly 7 months while he was allowed to finish a technical training course on becoming an electrician.
Last week, the steroid kingpin was finally sentenced to 16 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.
According to Patch.com, Santucci will also have to serve six months of home confinement, 120 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine during his supervised release.
Santucci was no small time dealer. He was importing hundreds of thousands of dollars of steroid ingredients from China and manufacturing and selling wholesale quantities of steroids, according to the U.S. Attorney District of Connecticut office.
Why? Because he had a massive client base of cops who were ready and willing to purchase, use and resell his product.
Santucci is not alone either. As the Free Thought Project previously reported, Darrion Holiwell, 51, was arrested and charged for not only taking steroids but dealing them to other SWAT deputies on the force, as well as people outside the agency.
As Alternet pointed out, the cases of cops using and selling steroids are anything but isolated.
These are some of the cases that have made news in the past year, though there likely are others that have not been revealed publicly:
- In June, a Jeffersonville, Ind., cop, Anthony Mills, resigned after pleading guilty to possession of steroids. His attorney told the media that Mills did not consider steroids to be illegal drugs.
- This spring, authorities in Edmonton, Alberta, revealed that a handful of police officers had been involved in the use or distribution of Stanozolol, the steroid commonly sold as Winstrol. More than 30 officers in Edmonton have been implicated in steroid use in the past few years, according to press reports there.
- In January, a Portland, Ore. cop who faced firing for a positive steroid test was allowed to resign.
- Last fall, a scandal rocked police in the Augusta, Ga., area when a man arrested for steroids possession gave authorities a list of steroid users among local law enforcement officers. At least one deputy resigned; authorities denied that the list included as many 30 others.
- Also last fall, the Miami New Times revealed that Miami-Dade police officers had been customers of Biogenesis, a South Florida steroid clinic at the heart of professional baseball’s ongoing doping scandal.
The dangers of cops taking steroids are obvious, as the rage associated with their use can become uncontrollable. All too often, we see police officers immediately escalate situations to violence when de-escalation would have been far easier and safer. Steroids could be the reason.
“I keep seeing all of these cases where the level of anger and violence shown by officers makes no sense,” Gilbertson says. “And when things don’t make sense, they don’t make sense for a reason…Maybe steroid rage is a reason so many police officers seem so angry and aggressive.”
Cops on the juice feel indestructible, as if they have superhuman strength.
Or as the DEA puts it, “The idea of enhanced physical strength and endurance provides one with ‘the invincible mentality’ when performing law enforcement duties.”
Starting to make sense now?
“Reasonable suspicion should be raised if they shoot somebody or beat the living daylights out of somebody,” Dan Handelman, a founding member of Portland Copwatch told Alternet. “In some of these recent cases, the officers seemed to be pumped up and were not necessarily working in a calm and level-headed manner. We wonder how much of this was coming from natural adrenalin and how much coming from other substances.”