Eight Arrested on Federal Steroid and Prescription Narcotic Distribution Charges
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that on April 29 and 30, the FBI, DEA, and HSI, working with the support of the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, arrested eight individuals as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation dubbed “Operation Juice Box.” The arrests culminated a long-term investigation into steroid and prescription pill distribution by multiple individuals, including a Newtown Police sergeant, a Newtown Police dispatcher and a Connecticut Judicial Marshal. The investigation, which included the use of wire and electronic surveillance for nearly two months, also revealed that members of the conspiracy allegedly imported steroids from China.
The following individuals were arrested on a federal complaint charging them with conspiracy to distribute, and distribution of, various controlled substances including steroids and oxycodone:
STEVEN SANTUCCI, 38, of Waterbury, and a Sergeant with the Newtown Police Department,
ALEX KENYHERCZ, 28, of Ansonia,
MARK BERTANZA, 33, of Shelton,
JASON CHICKOS, 46, of Bridgeport, and a civilian dispatcher with the Newtown Police Department,
FRANK PECORA, 53, of Derby,
JEFFREY GENTILE, 33, of Ansonia, and a Judicial Marshal with the State of Connecticut,
STEVEN FERNANDES, 54, of Southington,
MICHAEL D. MASE, 32, of Sherman
As alleged in the government’s complaint affidavit, which was unsealed in court on April 30, BERTANZA was a steroid distributer who obtained his steroids from KENYHERCZ. Wiretap interceptions over cellular telephones used by BERTANZA and KENYHERCZ, along with physical surveillance of various steroid sales, revealed that SANTUCCI was supplying steroids to KENYHERCZ. Through the investigation, agents learned that SANTUCCI has been receiving shipments of steroids and related materials from China since 2011 and has been manufacturing and distributing wholesale quantities of steroids. SANTUCCI frequently used an application called WhatsApp to communicate with his customers. CHICKOS, MASE and FERNANDES were SANTUCCI’s steroid customers who, in turn, regularly distributed the steroids in smaller quantities to their own customers. KENYHERCZ distributed quantities of steroids and prescription pills (including Roxicodone, Oxycodone, Suboxone and Opana). GENTILE is alleged to be a steroid distributer, and PECORA is alleged to be a prescription pill distributer.
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized hundreds of vials of steroids, approximately 600 grams of raw testosterone powder, approximately 350 grams of powder cocaine, and four long guns.
“The international importation and sale of mass quantities of steroids in our communities is a serious offense that raises significant public health concerns,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. “I thank the agents and officers who have dedicated themselves to this difficult case. Through their hard work, they have identified and arrested the source of these steroids, thus preventing further harm to the community.”
“The top criminal investigative program for the FBI is public corruption matters,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia M. Ferrick. “When law enforcement officers are involved in criminal activity, it brings a particular sense of urgency to the investigation. While disconcerting, this matter involving a Newtown Police Officer, a Connecticut Judicial Marshal, a Newtown Public Safety Dispatcher and others is not indicative of the fine work and dedication to public service exhibited by the vast majority of those individuals working within the criminal justice and law enforcement community. This ongoing investigation is being conducted in close collaboration between the FBI, the DEA, DHS, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Newtown Police Department.”
“DEA and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners are committed to investigating steroid trafficking organizations. We follow these investigations wherever they lead us – and in this case to a police officer,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “Wearing a shield does not give you a free pass to peddle this poison in our neighborhoods or to our families. This type of criminal behavior does not represent the fine work and dedication to public service that is exhibited by the vast majority of law enforcement officers.”
“These arrests illustrate the ability of our law enforcement partners such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other federal agencies to leverage their individual resources to work together and achieve justice,” said Bruce Foucart, HSI Special Agent in Charge of New England. “HSI continues to use its unique customs and immigration authorities to attack and dismantle these types of organizations, and will aggressively pursue leads, regardless of where that information may lead us.”
SANTUCCI, KENYHERCZ, BERTANZA, CHICKOS, GENTILE, FERNANDES and MASE have been released on bond. PECORA remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on May 5, 2015.
SANTUCCI, BERTANZA, GENTILE, MASE, FERNANDES and CHICKOS, are charged with conspiracy to distribute steroids, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $500,000. PECORA and KENYHERCZ and charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
In announcing these charges, U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that a complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Robert M. Spector.