When we think about drug dealers – either those selling illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin, or those selling prescription drugs illegally – we might have a particular profile in mind. Our vision might be shaped by the level at which the dealer operates. But when it comes to “street” dealers, that is, those selling to the ultimate users, we might have in mind a profile that we think fits the circumstances. Maybe it’s the strange fellow hanging out on the street corner. Or perhaps the shady guy who does business by cell phone, and communicates constantly with his “lookouts,” fits your idea of a purveyor of drugs.
A story that appeared last week in the New York Times might cause you to think twice about trying to pigeonhole drug dealers in any particular way. The subject of the report was a physician from Staten Island. He’s 85 years old, and spends much of his time caring for his frail wife. He had been convicted of drug dealing, and was sentenced on January 11 in federal court to six months of house arrest, a lenient sentence by any standards. He could have received up to six years, and the lighter sentence was definitely affected by his age and his role as his wife’s caretaker.
The conviction was the result of an FBI investigation that exposed the doctor’s sale of thousands of prescriptions for oxycodone, a pain medication available only by prescription. During the course of the seven month investigation, he wrote, and sold, an average of over 100 prescriptions per week.
You might like to think the illegal activities were prompted by financial needs associated with his wife’s illness, but again you would be mistaken. Police seized $37,000 in cash from his home, along with one hundred silver bars. Another $80,000 was found in a safe deposit box. It certainly wasn’t poverty that prompted his behavior.
The fact is that there is no accurate stereotype of a dealer at any level of the drug trade. Traffickers can be found among the drug cartels, but they can also be found among college students and professionals. While poverty and financial need may be a causative factor for some, it does not begin to cover all the possible reasons why many people continue to involve themselves in this activity.
George Vomvolakis Law Offices
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New York, NY 10016